Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hillary Clinton Exceeds Records Set By Her Husband Against Republicans In 2016, Says New CNN Poll

Hillary Clinton laughs with ex-Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta. A recent CNN/ORC poll certainly gives her plenty reason to smile. Photo courtesy of Win McNamee/Getty Images

Still shaking off the sting of November's thumping, a recent CNN/ORC poll provided Democrats with some glimmers of hope. While most of the headlines generated by the poll were concerned with Obama's sudden surge in job approval, there was another eye-brow raising statistic in the release - Hillary Clinton positively dominates the entire 2016 Republican field, at a time when news of Jeb Bush's unofficial campaign launch has sucked up much of the media oxygen in the room.

So how does the recently much-hyped junior Bush stack up against the recently quiet ex-Secretary of State? Very poorly, actually.

If the election were held today, Hillary would win a clear majority of the vote (54%), while Jeb Bush just barely cross the 40% mark. Supposing the margin between the candidates holds, it would be the worst popular vote performance for Republicans in a Presidential election since Barry Goldwater's landslide 1964 loss.

And if Jeb Bush is not the Republican nominee, and you're a Republican voter, well...go ahead and bend over, per CNN, because 2016 is going to be a rough ride.

The tough-talking New Jerseyan, who most think is a shoe-in to run, trails Hillary by an embarrassing 56-39% margin. Candidates as diverse as Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Ted Cruz, all trail ex-Sen. Clinton by 20 points or more. Hillary even hits 60% in a head-to-head against Sen. Cruz.

If you buy the CNN/ORC numbers, Hillary's performance against all of these candidates is truly intimidating. Not only does she match her ex-two-term President husband's 1990s performance in many demographic metrics, she actually exceeds his showing in many more. Consider the table below, which documents the demographics in which Hillary Clinton performs exceptionally strong in the CNN poll, and compares her performance with past Democratic nominees for President dating back to 1972 (the beginning of the modern exit polling era). 

Exit Poll data courtesy of Best & Krueger's Exit Polls.

Clinton's performance against Jeb Bush among men, women, Democrats, and Independents, is the best performance for any Democratic presidential nominee since at least as far back as national exit polls track (1972). In other words, Hillary Clinton outperforms EVERY Democrat dating back to McGovern, in key demographics tested by the CNN/ORC poll. For example, she's up four among men, a feat not yet accomplished by any Democrat in exit polling to date. Only Bill Clinton came close to such an accomplishment when he carried the male vote by 3 points in 1992. But even then, that election is not directly comparable due to the unique strength of third-party candidate Ross Perot.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chris Christie's Republican Problem: A Year Of Scandal Damages His Ratings With An Already Suspicious Base

Chris Christie is the least popular Republican in the 2016 primary field, and that's according to Republicans. Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are both popular with the base. Center illustration is courtesy of Daniel Adel. Illustration on the left is courtesy of Ismael Roldan. Illustration on the right is courtesy of DonkeyHotey.

In a July 2013 piece written on this blog, I suggested that a bipartisanly popular Governor Chris Christie would likely have a harder time winning a GOP primary than all three of his recent predecessors, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush. The hypothesis was based on an examination of all four politician's favorability ratings with members of their own party in the lead-up to the presidential primary.

Some, myself included, were surprised to learn that, despite home-state rockstar status in the wake of his handling of the Hurricane Sandy recovery, and a national favorability rating in the positive double-digits with voters of all stripes, Christie was in a worse position with his own party than known moderates that ran for President before him.

Flash-forward eighteen months to present day, and the situation has only gotten worse for Governor Christie. Not only did the Bridgegate scandal cause his home-state favorability rating to tumble hard back to earth, but his image has suffered nationally as well. No longer are Democrats giving him the benefit of the doubt - he's essentially any old Republican to them now. Independents, the group among whom Christie often saw his best numbers, now barely keep him above water.

But most important for his lingering presidential run, Christie is in a dangerously perilous position with the people he needs to win a primary - Republicans. In fact, his position is considerably worse than any one of the large pool of potential contenders bantered about by pundits. It's also considerably worse than serious contenders from years past, such as Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani.

Christie's trouble couldn't be more apparent than in a recent Monmouth University Poll of fifteen possible Republican presidential candidates. He ranks second-to-last in terms of net favorability, beating out Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (who only 23% of Republicans are familiar enough with to rate at all; Christie, meanwhile, is the second best-known of the fifteen candidates tested, behind Mitt Romney).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A "firefight into a footnote." Why Mary Landrieu's Racially Tinged Runoff Strategy Won't Save Her

Sen. Landrieu appears with Hillary Clinton at a recent rally in Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Gerald Herbert/A.P. The quoted portion of the title of this article is courtesy of a recent Sean Sullivan and Karen Tumulty piece for the Washington Post.

Sen. Mary Landrieu's campaign is flailing. Her ominous performance in the 2014 midterm, and her panicked (some would even call desperate) attempts at turning out black voters for the runoff this Saturday provide clear evidence of the perilous position she's in.

Just one month ago, Landrieu racked up her worst performance in her state's jungle primary since initially running for the seat in 1996. She captured just 42% of the vote, compared to her two main Republican primary opponent's combined 55%. Then, recently, came even more daunting news of her predicament - she was down in early voting in the runoff, as was African American turnout. As added insult, the DSCC has apparently chosen to stay out of the race all together.

To boot, of the five runoff surveys released since the November 4th jungle primary, Landrieu has trailed by no less than eleven points, and by as much as twenty-one points. That's near-irreversibly awful, especially for a three-term incumbent.

So it's no surprise Landrieu's latest campaign tactics have turned from merely aggressive, to potentially inciteful. Look no further than comments she made at a campaign rally just Tuesday, as reported by the Washington Post's Sean Sullivan, in which she claimed her Republican runoff opponent had been "disrespectful" to the Democratic President.

The inference she is making is clear. She was addressing a largely black audience, and was echoing comments originally directed at African-Americans in an ad by Democratic Congressman, Cedrick Richmond, who is also African-American.

When pressed further for an explanation of her comments, Landrieu explained:

"[Cassidy] refers to [Obama] by his last name. Constantly."

She added: "If you are going to refer to the president of the United States, he's at least earned the title that the people gave him when they elected him."

For what it's worth, Landrieu has had her own brushes with Presidential disrespect, according to the always objective Daily Kos.

But I digress. While Landrieu's campaign tactics as of late may seem off-putting, there's a definite purpose behind the attacks. The Democrat, if she has any chance of pulling off a miracle in Louisiana, is in dire need of historical black turnout, well beyond what was seen in the 2014 primary - or any recent statewide Louisiana race, for that matter. Why? Because in the 2014 primary, blacks comprised 65% of Sen. Landrieu's vote total, vs. just 2% of Bill Cassidy's.

In the 2014 primary, 29% of the primary electorate consisted of African American voters, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State's office. Yet Landrieu still finished well below the 50% threshold she would need to avoid the runoff. Such a feat would have required black turnout to approach the 40% level. Unfortunately for Landrieu, polls just aren't finding that - in fact, they're finding nothing near what she will need in terms of black turnout to survive.