Clinton is in big trouble. We may be reaching the tipping point at which Democratic voters decide she is not just a scoundrel, but something far less tolerable — a loser.
Take, for example, a few of the most recent polls:
- The latest Washington Post poll has her at only 46% and leading Donald Trump by only three points nationwide.
- Clinton ties Trump, trails Ben Carson by five points, and trails Jeb Bush by two points nationwide in the latest CNN poll.
- She trails Trump by five points nationwide in a recent Survey USA poll.
- She trails Trump by five points and Jeb by 11 points in Iowa in the latest Marist poll.
- She trails Bush by five and Trump by one in New Hampshire, according to Marist.
These numbers are ominous for Clinton, especially when we add the customary disclaimer about her universal name recognition. As a candidate whom all the voters know already, she has little room to grow. Any result that puts her too far below 50% is quite bad, even if she happens to have a small lead. And there is no poll that shows her with a large general election lead.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden fares better in nearly every matchup — although he does not lead in all of them.
We are now reaching the point where these polls are emboldening the Democratic opposition and challenging the faith of Hillary’s die-hard supporters. It is no coincidence that just as Clinton is looking like a less-than-inspiring general election candidate, both Bernie Sanders and Biden (still just a theoretical candidate) are surging in state and national primary polls. For example:
- Quinnipiac now has Sanders leading in Iowa by a hair.
- CBS/YouGov, though it uses a less reliable methodology, now has Sanders up 10 points in Iowa.
- Sanders continues to lead in New Hampshire by a much wider margin of nine points.
- As recently as June, Clinton led her Democratic rivals nationally by somewhere between 40 and 60 points. The latest CNN poll has her lead down to 10 points, with both Sanders and Biden exceeding 20% support.
The great fear for Democrats at the rank-and-file level is that they could end up stuck with an unelectable nominee. And this cuts more than one way. It may be that their two current choices are both unelectable — Clinton because she is perceived as untrustworthy and dishonest, and Sanders because he is just too far to the left politically.
If Clinton is unelectable, many liberals would rather take their chances with Sanders. And of course, there’s always the third potential option, if Vice President Biden actually decides to run.
Of course, Biden hasn’t jumped in yet, and the clock is ticking. As we have noted previously, the last candidate to wait until October and still succeed was Bill Clinton in 1992, and that happened under a very different set of circumstances.
To most people, Biden’s choice might seem like a no-brainer. The market demand is definitely there for a formidable, mainstream Democratic candidate, and they are in short supply. With the Democratic field thinned significantly by the 2010 and 2014 elections, Biden is now the only realistic third alternative to those two. Neither former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee nor former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has managed to gain any traction, and so barring some kind of miracle for one of them, there just aren’t any other choices.
But as Biden makes up his mind, it’s also important to remember that politicians are people, too. Biden’s son died this year. He also knows it will not be pleasant to go up against the Clinton machine, and that a bloody battle against her could leave the eventual winner in a hopeless position for the general election.