Sanders Up Big in New Hampshire; Biden Worried About Clinton's Electability
June 2007 — Clinton and Biden confer during a Democratic primary debate at Howard University. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo; source)
by Gaius Publius
A newsy piece as we watch the shifting winds. First, there's a new PPP poll of New Hampshire voters with a Trump-centric headline — "Trump up big in NH; Sanders leads Clinton" — but for me the biggest story is Sanders' large and broadening appeal (my emphasis throughout):
There's been a big shift on the Democratic side since April as well. Bernie Sanders now leads the field in the state with 42% to 35% for Hillary Clinton, 6% for Jim Webb, 4% for Martin O'Malley, 2% for Lincoln Chafee, and 1% for Lawrence Lessig.A win in New Hampshire, or a very credible showing, means Sanders should survive through Super Tuesday in early March at least. It's also good news that his appeal has broadened.
The main story in New Hampshire is how universally popular Sanders has become with the Democratic electorate. 78% see him favorably to only 12% with a negative opinion- that makes him easily the most popular candidate on either side with their party's voters. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton's favorability numbers have taken a little bit of a hit- she was at 78/10 with Democratic primary voters in April, but now she's at a 63/25 spread.
The ideological divide is actually not that stark on the Democratic side. Sanders is ahead with 'somewhat liberal' voters (45/32), 'very liberal' ones (46/37), and moderates (40/36) alike. And although there is certainly a gender gap Sanders is ahead with both men (44/30) and women (41/38). But the real big divide we see is along generational lines- Clinton is ahead 51/34 with seniors, but Sanders has a 45/29 advantage with everyone under the age of 65.
New Hampshire is somewhat a world unto itself in the Democratic race. We're still finding Clinton well ahead everywhere else. But it's clear there's a real race now in the Granite State.
Biden Has His Doubts About Clinton
And now the second item. I earlier wrote that Democratic Party insiders — the small group of people who will really decide whom the party nominates, if they can get away with it — are having doubts about Clinton's ability to turn out the base. Now the Huffington Post offers Joe Biden's recent thoughts, according to a "former adviser who remains close to the vice president":
Joe Biden Worried Hillary Clinton Isn't Credible On Income InequalityWere these "thoughts" leaked with permission? Likely. Does that matter? In this case, no. It almost strengthens the case and also suggests that other insiders — Biden is a consummate insider, just like Clinton — may have similar doubts.
If Vice President Joe Biden decides to jump into the presidential race, his decision will be driven, he has said in recent conversations, by a belief that Hillary Clinton's background won't allow her to be a credible messenger when it comes to income inequality, which Biden sees as a defining issue. But even as Biden sees that opening, and is being urged by members of his family to run, his remaining reluctance stems from his wife Jill Biden's discomfort with a bid at this moment.
... His final choice on whether to run, according to a Democratic fundraiser who has met with Biden aides, will likely come in late September. However, another prominent Democratic fundraiser who has raised money for Biden in the past suggested that an entry could come as late as early October, in the weeks leading up to the first Democratic debate.
Biden is also waiting to see how the current Democratic primary process plays out. It's not just Hillary Clinton's trouble shaking criticism over her use of a private email account while secretary of state that he's watching. Biden has also expressed concerns in conversations with fellow Democrats that Clinton won't be able to effectively push issues like economic inequality, owing to her time at the Clinton foundation and the paid speeches she's given since leaving the State Department.
For weeks now, Democratic officials had assumed that talk of a run from inside Biden's orbit was merely an effort to keep options open should a Clinton candidacy fall apart. But in recent days, the chatter has grown louder and more specific, with inquiries being made into how a campaign structure could be put together and how much money could be raised. Speculation hit a near fever pitch this past weekend, after the vice president Saturday with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has yet to endorse in the primary.
As Bill Curry presciently wrote in June (quoted and discussed here):
Hillary Clinton is going to lose: She doesn’t even see the frustrated progressive wave that will nominate Bernie SandersBill Curry is himself an insider, or at least a former one. As his Salon bio states: "Bill Curry was White House counselor to President Clinton and a two-time Democratic nominee for governor of Connecticut." Just like Biden, Curry talks to people who know people who know things, even if they're sometimes yelling at him.
Clinton's positioning on TPP is way too cute. When it passes with Dems' implicit support, grass roots will explode
... A bigger problem for Clinton may be that we know what she thinks. Her platform is like Obama’s trade deal; she won’t say what’s in it, but we can easily guess. It isn’t populism and it isn’t reform. The TPP? She never met a trade deal she didn’t like. The minimum wage? She and Obama let McDonald’s get the drop on them. The surveillance state? Her handling of her emails told us all we need to know of her views on transparency. More war in Iraq? For 12 years as a senator and secretary of state she was John McCain’s best friend. If she gets to be commander in chief, get ready to rumble.
She’s weakest on the sleeper issue of 2016: public corruption and the general debasement of politics and government. Voter disgust is so deep even consultants who make their real livings off corporate clients tell their political clients to talk about it. In her speech Clinton vowed to “wage and win four fights for you.” The first three were jobs, families and national security. The fourth was “reforming our government and revitalizing our democracy.” She vowed to overturn Citizens United and fight GOP efforts to disenfranchise the young, the poor and people of color, but then drifted off onto technology and cutting waste. Unlike nearly every Republican announcing for president, she never mentioned ethics or corruption.
Democratic elites don’t want to hear it but Hillary Clinton’s in trouble. It isn’t in all the data yet though you can find it if you look. In a straw poll taken in early June at a Wisconsin Democratic convention she edged out Bernie Sanders by just 8 points, 49% to 41%. In a poll of N.H. primary voters this week she beat Sanders by 41% to 31%. An Ohio poll had her in a dead heat with the likes of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. If Sanders can poll 40% in a Wisconsin straw poll in June he can do it [in] an Iowa caucus in January. Imagine a Hillary Clinton who just lost Iowa and New Hampshire to Bernie Sanders. ...
What Does This Mean for Clinton?
This shift in the insider wind could mean any number of things for Clinton, including nothing at all. After all, the Democrats have the Republican's "front-runner problem" in a slightly different form. Republican insider decision-makers may not want Trump as their nominee, but to whom do they turn? Their electorate clearly prefers none of the other alternatives, and Trump is belittling them daily. Every minute he stands tall, they look smaller and smaller.
Democratic insider decision-makers may fear a loss with Clinton, but to whom do they turn? To Martin O'Malley, polling near the bottom in every state? To Bernie Sanders, who could win (in the opinion of many of us), but who is the insiders' worst nightmare? Sanders, after all, is a card-carrying member of the hated "Warren wing," and we've seen time and again that "Wall Street" Democratic insiders would rather lose an election — or a house of Congress — to insiders from the other party than win with outsider progressives from their own.
Do you see most insider Democrats actually backing a Sanders bid, if he does get the nomination? I think he could easily beat any of the Republicans, especially and including Donald Trump, but I'll bet he has the party leaders' wind in his face as he does it.
So far, according to the rest of the Huffington Post article, Biden's bid to attract anti-Clinton insiders has drawn little interest. We'll see how this plays out. Which brings me back to a point I've made for a while, that this is the most important presidential election in this generation. Its consequences will be with the country — if not the species — for a very long time.
It's also turned interesting, almost thriller-interesting. Stay tuned.
(If you like, you can help Sanders out by clicking here; adjust the split any way you wish at the link.)