The summer Hillary would like to forget

Cameron Smyth Commentary

While much of the political world is focused on the Trump phenomenon and the outcome of the most recent Republican debate, Hillary Clinton is having a summer even the most ardent Clinton opponents could have never imagined.

A campaign, which as recently as May was expected to be a smooth coronation to the nomination while Republicans battled it out to the convention, has quickly become a question as to whether Hillary will even last through 2015.

I tend to fall on the side of those who feel the election is still a long way out and there is plenty of time for another Clinton recovery, but as each day passes and a seemingly new scandal emerges each week, the potential for another mainstream Democrat to join the race grows.

However, don’t take my word for it, Let’s look at the numbers: Poll after poll, conducted both nationally as well as within key states shows a disturbing trend, and sadly for Mrs. Clinton, I believe she has yet to bottom out. You see, many of the most recent polls occurred in late July/early August — well before her campaign conceded that classified documents were stored on her personal, non-protected computer, leading to multiple investigations and forcing her “shadow” Huma Abedin to retain her legal counsel.

Quinnipiac University polls (which can hardly be seen as “partisan Republican”) in three swing states, show Clinton trailing Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker. In Colorado, Clinton trails Rubio 38%-46%, Bush 36%-41% and Walker 38%-47%. In Iowa, she trails Rubio 36%-44%, Bush 36%-42% and Walker 37%-45%. Moreover, in Virginia, she closes the gap but still trails Rubio 41%-43%, Bush 39%-42% and Walker 40%-43%.

Nationally the slide follows what is being seen in individual states: In May, she led both Bush and Walker by 10 and 8 points respectively. Now, she trails Bush 42-41 and only leads Walker 44-43. Ironically, she does her best against Republican front-runner Donald Trump, leading by double digits.

Clinton also recorded her worst national favorability score ever in the Quinnipiac survey. Nationwide just 40% of voters view her favorably, compared with 51% who do not. By a 20 point margin, (57-37) responders said Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, and 52% said she did not care about their needs or problems. These have to be the most disturbing, A majority of Americans just don’t trust her and view her lacking when it comes to her character.

Mainstream Democrats worst fear is now coming true with the momentum generated by Bernie Sanders, which shows no sign of slowing down. Sanders recent stop in Los Angeles, where over 27,000 supporters packed the Sports Arena, dwarfed the largest crowd to see Clinton this season — a paltry 5,000 for her kickoff event. Moreover, if that was not bad enough, the most recent released poll (mid-August) now has Clinton trailing Sanders 44-37 in New Hampshire. Moreover, although an Iowa poll released Aug. 16 shows Clinton leading Sanders by double digits in the Hawkeye state, 54% remained undecided, and she actually trails Sanders by 7% when it comes to the “honest and trustworthy” question. Her campaign continues to tout national polls where she maintains a large lead over Sanders, although none have been taken since her most recent scandal made the front pages.

All of these factors certainly demonstrate a vulnerability to the Clinton campaign. However, she still retains a huge financial and organizational advantage over any potential Democrat. That being said, it is clear that Vice President Biden is now slowly testing the waters and will wait until at least September when more national polling is released to make a decision. Biden’s supporters are encouraged by his performance in the same Quinnipiac poll that shows Clinton struggling — Biden received his highest favorability rating (49%) in seven years, with 58 percent saying he was honest and trustworthy and 57 percent saying he cared about them.

With less than six months to Iowa, Biden (and all potential candidates) need to decide if they want to jump in. However, all is not dependent on what happens in the first caucus. Biden recently met with advisors in South Carolina, and he may choose to forgo Iowa and New Hampshire completely and focus on primaries occurring a bit later in the cycle.
Whatever transpires, we can expect 2016 to be a long, brutal, and entertaining election year for both parties and we could not have said that when the summer started. . . .