What if Most Democrats Don't Want Hillary?

Hillary may be the favorite to win the Democrat nomination in 2016, but polling data in the last couple of years show that, even against an essentially empty field for the Democrat nomination, her support is eroding.  The recent Wisconsin straw poll had Bernie Sanders, an old and out-of-touch socialist, with the support of 41% of Democrats, while Hillary had 49% support from Democrats.

How can this data be interpreted except that many Democrats want anybody but Hillary as the nominee?  Everyone knows Hillary and has already formed a definite opinion of her.  Her inability in that straw poll in a swing state tilting blue to even gain half of the Democrats in the poll says volumes about her appeal even to members of her own party.

As I have noted before, although Hillary “wins” the trial heat polls against Republican opponents in the general election, she also polls consistently in the mid-40s in those polls.  Everyone knows who Hillary is, and everyone who is going to support Hillary would have named her as his or her favorite in these trial heat polls.  That means the ceiling for support for Hillary in the general election is 46%-48%, which means her opponent would win the popular vote and, probably, the electoral vote as well.

The polls of Democrats asking whom in their party they support for president also suggests Hillary’s high water mark within her party.  In Wisconsin, that threshold looks like 49% of Democrats, which ought to make her operatives nervous.  But it is the deterioration in national polls for Democrats for their party’s nomination that ought to really make Hillary sweat.

Five polling organizations have conducted multiple polls since September 2013 asking Democrats which candidate they support for the 2016 nomination.  The good news for Hillary is that she still easily bests every other named candidate, whether in the race or not.  The bad news is that affirmative support for Hillary for the nomination has been trending downward in all five of these polling organizations results.

Two polling organizations have more than seven polled months.  Fox News shows Hillary’s support in nine polled months since September 2013 as fluctuating but dropping thus, beginning with September 2013 and ending June 2015: 68%, 69%, 64%, 62%, 55%, 61%, 62%, 63%, and 57%.  The average of those poll numbers is 62.3%, which is over five points above her current affirmative poll numbers.  Quinnipiac has seven polled months since April 2013 through late May 2015 with this progression: 65%, 61%, 66%, 65%, 68%, 60%, and 57%.  The average is 63.1%, or more than six points above her May 2015 numbers. 

Three other news organizations have fewer polled months but the same trend.  Washington Post has five polled months since May 2014 to May 2015, and the progression of those polls shows support for Hillary:  69%, 64%, 61%, 66%, and 62%.  The average is 64.4%, or 2.4 points above her current numbers.  CNN also have five polled months from September 2013 to May 2015, with this progression: 65%, 63%, 67%, 69% and 60%.  The average is 64.8%, or 4.8 points above her May 2015 poll numbers.  Marist has only three months since September 2014 to March 2015, but the progression, again, is clear: 64%, 62%, and 60%.  The mean is 62%, or two points above her most recent numbers.

There are two salient facts in these five news organizations numbers.  First, Hillary is the choice of fewer and fewer Democrats as time goes on, even in an essentially empty field – in every case, her current poll numbers are significantly below the poll average of support for her, and in every case, her most current poll numbers are the lowest of any polled month. 

Second, if these trends continue, then some polls may actually start to show that Hillary’s support for the Democrat nomination among members of her party is below 50% – or, put another way, that most Democrats don’t want Hillary as their party’s nominee.

What happens then?  What if Hillary’s support among Democrats drops even more as more scandals and more stonewalling cause even more hesitation among Democrats?  How do Democrats nominate a candidate who has, perhaps, only 45% of the support of Democrats nationally?  Even worse for Democrats, how do Democrat operatives turn out the vote nationally in the 2016 – not just for Hillary, but for senators, congressmen, and governors – if most Democrats did not want Hillary as their candidate?  And how in the world can these numbers be improved for a figure as old and familiar and predictable in American politics?