According to polling by Reuters/Ipsos, Hillary Clinton’s support among Democratic voters fell from 51 percent to 41 percent from October 4 to October 9. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders’ share rose from 24 to 28 percent and Joe Biden’s from 16 to 20 percent.
This particular poll has been pretty volatile. I suspect that Clinton’s actual loss of support in such a short period isn’t as dramatic as Reuters/Ispos found. The loss is probably real, however, and presumably can be explained in part by the worsening of her position in the email scandal.
The next big development on the Democratic side (barring immediate entry by Joe Biden) will be the debate this coming Tuesday night. My sense is that in order to stop sliding, Hillary must (1) avoid being outflanked to the left by Sanders and perhaps even outflank him on an issue or two and (2) seem genuine in doing so.
The first task isn’t that difficult; Clinton has shown that she will say anything. The problem arises if she’s nominated and then must live with left-wing positions that, although not necessarily inconsistent with her thinking, she rather would not have been forced to adopt.
The second task is inherently difficult for Clinton because she has difficulty seeming genuine in any public endeavor. On top of that, her leftward swing leaves her vulnerable to being exposed for changing positions the way she changes hair styles (okay, maybe not quite that much).
Sanders reportedly is barely preparing for the debate. But he will want to have a list of past positions taken by Clinton that are inconsistent with her current posture. Anyone who does his homework will have no difficulty compiling such a list.
Sanders says he does not want to go “negative.” But all he has to do is recite what Clinton has said, and how she has voted, in the past. That’s not really going negative, though it will feel that way to Hillary.
Many conservatives will relish watching this debate, but perhaps not as much as Joe Biden will.