Tuesday, November 05, 2013


After looking at one poll, Frank Bruni has decided that Hillary Clinton is so over:
Hillary Clinton of all people knows how political fortunes turn on a dime. But she must be puzzled nonetheless, and spooked, that over a six-month period when she made no big news whatsoever, her popularity took a double-digit tumble.

A poll released last week by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal charted the decline. It found that the percentage of Americans who view her favorably had dropped to 46 from 56. The percentage with unfavorable views had risen, less strikingly, to 33 from 29.

Here we go. The beginning of the end of her inevitability.

It's about time, because the truth, more apparent with each day, is that she has serious problems as a potential 2016 presidential contender....
Yep, folks, it's all over. Pay no attention to her favorable/unfavorable numbers in any of the other recent polls: 59%-37% favorable in a CNN poll conducted a couple of weeks ago, 56%-39% in a Pew poll a couple of weeks before that, 56%-36% in a Quinnipiac poll in late September. One poll has her under 50%, so stick a fork in her.
In the wake of the federal shutdown, in the midst of the Obamacare meltdown, voter disgust with business as usual is at the kind of peak that ensures more than the usual share of surprises in the next few elections. In one recent poll, 60 percent of Americans said that they'd like to see everyone in Congress, including their own representatives, replaced; in another, a similar majority hankered for a third party.
That's a high level of disgust, and it certainly suggests the possibility of "more than the usual share of surprises in the next few elections." But "ensures"? Only someone who's paid as little attention to politics as Bruni apparently has over the years would think that polling results like this inevitably translate into big electoral changes. Usually we Americans stamp our feet, then go right back to reelecting incumbents. A The New York Times political columnist should know that, but Bruni doesn't.
These unusually big numbers suggest a climate in which someone who has been front and center in politics for nearly a quarter-century won't make all that many hearts beat all that much faster. Voters are souring on familiar political operators, especially those in, or associated with, Washington. That's why Clinton has fallen. She's lumped together with President Obama, with congressional leaders, with the whole reviled lot of them.
You know who else had a significant drop in popularity in that NBC/Journal poll, even though no one wrote a story about it? I hope you're sitting down for this.

Chris Christie.

Yes, it's true: the news media's dreamboat, the guy we're told is the antithesis of D.C. business as usual, went from a 41% favorable rating in late May and early June to a 33% approval rating now (PDF). But that doesn't fit Bruni's narrative, so never mind.

May I pause here and offer a theory as to why Hillary (and Christie) had those big drops? I think it's because they were brought up in a series of questions that generated a vast amount of ill feeling among poll respondents:
Now I'm going to read you the names of several public figures and groups. I'd like you to rate your feelings toward each one as very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative. If you don't know the name, please just say so. (RANDOMIZE EXCEPT BARACK OBAMA)

Barack Obama
The Republican Party
The Democratic Party
The Tea Party Movement
John Boehner
Harry Reid
Mitch McConnell
Ted Cruz
Federal government employees
Hillary Clinton
Chris Christie
Get lumped in with that crowd and no wonder the mere mention of your name makes respondents cranky.

Back to Bruni on Hillary:
And some of the ways in which she stands out from the lot aren't flattering. She comes with a more tangled political history of gifts bestowed, favors owed, ironclad allegiances and ancient feuds than almost any possible competitor does. We've had frequent reminders of that: in the Anthony Weiner saga; in reports of mismanagement at the Clinton Foundation; in coverage of Terry McAuliffe's bid to become Virginia's governor.
Here's a challenge, Frank: Go anywhere in America outside the New York, D.C., L.A., and Boston/Cambridge metro areas. Ask a hundred random non-Fox-watching voters to tell you everything they know about Hillary Clinton's ties to Anthony Weiner and Terry McAuliffe. I'll give you ten bucks for every voter who can utter more than two sentences on the subjects, and you give me a buck for everyone who can't even identify McAuliffe. I guarantee I'll come out ahead.
...We've also had glimpses of the Clintons as an entrenched, entitled ruling class. To a degree that has turned off even some of the couple's loyalists, Bill and Hillary have been unabashed lately in their coronation of Chelsea as the Clinton in waiting, the heir to the throne.
This is another item that means absolutely nothing to the average voter. The Clintons love their daughter! That's what people see -- assuming they've even noticed this, which I strongly doubt. (I shouldn't have implied above that Bruni knows nothing about politics -- he knows insider political chatter, which he mistakes for the thinking of the entire country.)
... [Hillary] sailed high as secretary of state because, apart from Benghazi, she could and did position herself mostly above the partisan fray. The hellcat had become a cool cat, wearing shades instead of thick glasses, the meme of all memes.
That mention of "thick glasses" is a tell. It's a sign that if right-wing operatives and straight-guy Beltway journalists succeed in turning Hillary into (as Digby puts it) "the icky old lady," Bruni will be right there with them.

And, of course, he'll throw in a Benghazi reference, too, just for good measure.


UPDATE, WEDNESDAY: I bet Frank Bruni won't write about this result from a Public Policy Polling national survey (emphasis added):
Hillary Clinton continues to be the overall frontrunner for 2016, leading all of her potential Republican opponents by at least 5 points. Chris Christie comes the closest at 44/39, followed by Jeb Bush at 48/39, and Rand Paul at 49/37. Clinton's average lead of 9 points in these head to heads is up from an average lead of 4 points on our July poll....
Yes, her lead is up. Well, Frank?


Greg said...

I do think Mrs. Clinton -- the former esteemed Senator, Secretary of State, and First Lady; the living legend and important historical figure -- does need to avoid any kind of "inevitable coronation" thinking in her campaign. Because her resume won't mean as much if they can tar her as old and icky. She may need some "I paid for this microphone" moment (old farts will get that one) to give her quest a renewed sense of vitality and in-the-momentness. And the more she can spread a "Kids think she's the coolest grandma ever!" meme, the better.

Unknown said...

Greg, they've already tarred her as old and icky. If that's all they've got, she'll do fine. But they'll tar her with as much tar as they can manufacture and import, and if she is elected President, the tarring will never, ever stop.

Having said that, she has made no move toward running. Everybody else assumes it, but I'm not so sure. Nobody knows better than she how physically, mentally, spiritually hard it is to run, much less serve. She may be gauging her own health, and Bill's, before making that decision. When I see her speaking to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, I'll know.

Victor said...

At least when Jackie Robinson entered the league as Baseball's first black player since the late 18the Century, he was a legitimately GREAT player - and not some bush-league back-bencher.

When the NY Times was the first major American paper to hire an openly gay man as an Op-ed columnist, I cheered!

Too bad Bruni's not even a back-bencher - he's not even fit to be the lowest level of a sports trainer - the guy who washes the jocks of real stars, like Paul Krugman.

Never Ben Better said...

So her lead is up. Details, details.

Facts are stupid things.

* waves pundit hand seriously *