When a CNN poll last week showed Hillary Clinton leading Rand Paul by a single percentage point (48-47) and only three points ahead of Marco Rubio (49-46) and Scott Walker (49-46), it was mildly shocking. In April, her lead over the three Republican presidential candidates had been in double digits: Paul (58-39), Rubio (55-41), and Walker (59-37).Really? Why?
But wait. If the next CNN survey shows Clinton actually behind one or two or three of the GOP candidates, it won’t be just shocking. It will send Democrats into a near-panic over the possibility of losing the White House in 2016, even with their preferred candidate, Clinton, as nominee.
I went back to the Real Clear Politics collection of Obama-Romney polls from the 2012 race. While the vast majority of them showed Obama in the lead, sometimes by double digits, 63 of the polls showed Romney in the lead, from as early as April 2010 to as late as a few days before the election. There was concern about this -- but panic? Maybe on the part of, say, Andrew Sullivan after the first Obama-Romney debate. But not from most Obama backers.
Hillary Clinton has had an extraordinary run of polls in head-to-head matchups. The polls are tightening in response to a run of bad press -- but why is that unexpected? Republicans, all the "clown car" talk notwithstanding, have a lot of credible candidates. She's running to succeed a member of her own party whose own poll numbers are less than spectacular. Under those circumstances, maybe it's Republicans who should be panicking because their three front-runners, Bush, Walker, and Rubio, trail Clinton by 5.2, 6.8, and 4.2 points, respectively, based on the most recent polls. Why aren't they doing better?
Deep in the Barnes piece, there's this ridiculous paragraph:
Given all this, two more problems have dropped in the lap of Clinton’s campaign. One is the increased attention her Democratic opponents are getting. Democratic voters are suddenly interested in hearing their pitches. And former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg has popped up as a possible entrant in the Democratic race against Clinton.Regarding the first part: Democratic voters have always been open to hearing from alternatives to Clinton, as an April 2015 poll noted:
In a Bloomberg Politics national poll published Friday, 72 percent of Democrats and Independents said it would be good for the Democratic Party if Hillary Clinton faced off in a primary against a “serious” challenger.We're capable of keeping it civil -- even in 2008 we managed that, a few unrepresentative grudge-holders notwithstanding.
But then after that: Mike Bloomberg? Seriously?
Yes, I do see his name being floated -- by fat cats and by the New York Post. Linette Lopez of Business Insider says the fat cats really want him in the race:
Wall Street wants Michael Bloomberg to run for president, but the billionaire isn't budging.Yeh, that's what the average Democratic voter wants: a candidate who's even more tied to Wall Street than Hillary Clinton.
At the Yale CEO Summit this week, the talk was of "drafting Bloomberg" however possible....
Rumblings about a Bloomberg run are especially strong at several bulge bracket banks, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The other source for this rumor is former reasonable Daily News columnist turned wingnut New York Post attack dog/concern troll Michael Goodwin, who (in typical Post fashion) invokes a lot of unnamed Democrats as he describes an allegedly burgeoning Bloomberg-for-president movement. When you read about unnamed Democrats in the Post, trust me, you're being lied to:
New York Dems friendly to Bloomberg have approached him to gauge his interest. Their argument is that Clinton’s vulnerability with general-election voters, especially independents, could result in a Republican president. They also believed Bloomberg could be interested because, as one of them told me,“Mike can’t stand Hillary.”Goodwin eventually gives the game away:
One visitor to the former mayor came away cautiously optimistic after a 30-minute meeting, noting that Bloomberg didn’t throw him out of the office or start fiddling with his smartphone.
“That means he wasn’t bored and was listening,” said another man who talked to the three-term mayor. They were also encouraged that Bloomberg said something to the effect that it would be “no problem” for him to drop his unaffiliated registration and become a Democrat again.
It’s far from certain that Bloomberg will run, but I can envision a scenario where he floats a trial balloon to see how people react. I’m saving him the trouble because I hope he gives the idea serious consideration.Translation: This is Bloomberg's trial balloon. Bloomberg's people have approached Goodwin about floating it, and Goodwin, always eager to make mischief for the Democrats, is happy to oblige. But Bloomberg, as he has in the past, will refrain from running unless he thinks the public will greet him with hosannas. I'm sure he's polling that now. I suspect the hosannas won't be there.
One final point about Hillary Clinton: Both Fred Barnes and Michael Goodwin invoke her low numbers on the "honest and trustworthy" question in a recent CNN poll. But as Yastreblyansky noted in my commemts last week,
In January 2001 Bill Clinton was worse on "Do you generally think Bill Clinton is honest and trustworthy?", 58% no to 39% yes, but his job approval was a phenomenal 65% to 31%. I think pundits misread what voters mean when they answer "no" to the honest-and-trustworthy question.True -- voters don't expect politicians to be all that honest. Hillary Clinton is vulnerable on this, but don't assume it's a dealbreaker for most of the public -- otherwise she wouldn't still be beating her rivals.