Despite the hype, actually Hillary Clinton’s campaign is doing just fine

Screenshot 2015-08-26 17.22.35It’s been odd to see all the claims that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is crashing or that she’s a terrible campaigner. That’s because the evidence just doesn’t back that up.

In the nomination fight, she’s far ahead in national polls and behind only in one state, New Hampshire, which happens to be right next to the leading candidate’s home state, Vermont. And there’s nothing remotely unusual about having a progressive candidate (or candidates together) picking up the 20-25% in a Democratic presidential contest that Sanders is getting in national polls.

In general election matchups, Clinton beats all GOP candidates in the national poll averages. That’s not so for all the swing states, but these have been polled so little by credible polling organizations that there’s just not good data yet.

While pundits bluster about Clinton not having a chance, members of the public have a lot of confidence in her prospects.

That’s shown in a YouGov poll that asked if particular candidates could get elected. Clinton got far and away the highest percentage of respondents.

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When it comes to the fastest growing segment of the electorate — Hispanics — Clinton has very high favorable ratings, per Gallup. They’re not only much higher than any GOP candidate but are also much higher than other Democrats’ ratings.

Between this and Clinton’s top favorables among African-Americans, there’s no reason to think she should have any real trouble winning the nomination.

Here are the Democrats’ favorables among Hispanics:

Screenshot 2015-08-26 17.30.44

And here are the Republicans’ favorables among Hispanics:

Screenshot 2015-08-26 17.32.10

Why does the Hispanic vote matter? Well, Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, said that, to win in November 2016, a GOP candidate would need to go from the 27% of the Hispanic vote Romney received, to 40%.

All sorts of folks claim that Clinton will crash because something will come out about her emals that isn’t known yet. Well, we don’t know what we don’t know, but based on what we do know, the whole email issue looks way overstated.

Most people writing about the emails either overlook or have a poor grasp of some of the the details of what happened.

They don’t seem to know that Clinton used a secure server for material labeled as classified.

And they don’t seem to know that the State Department’s unclassfied server was often used for the occasional (later reclassified) perhaps classified messages, including by Bush Secretary of State Condi Rice, just like Clinton’s.

Clinton’s email and server set-up was approved by the State Department. And while now State Department rules would not allow this system, they weren’t in effect and, as State Department spokesperson John Kirby recently said, “there was no prohibition” when Clinton used it.

Maybe someday the emails will prove to be a serious problem for Clinton. But if the story holds up where it is now, where there were no emails with classified markings sent to Clinton, then the story is likely to turn into background noise.

Voters are already taking this into account in evaluating Clinton and it’s certainly possible it won’t have any further impact on Clinton’s relative position. People care a lot about how candidates will deal with things that affect their lives and Clinton has lots of advantages over Republicans when it comes to that.

Democratic politicians are not only not backing away from her, but she continues to rack up endorsements.

In winter 2016, Clinton could wrap up the nomination while the GOP field continues to fight among itself, ramping up the arguments about issues that hurt Republicans particular groups and the general electorate.

And that could come after a fall when the GOP House and Sen. Ted Cruz try to shut down the federal government in an effort to strip funding from the popular organization, Planned Parenthood.

This is not to say that Clinton faces clear sailing.

All presidential campaigns are tough, Clinton has enemies who still think she murdered Vince Foster during her husband’s administration, and the national media have a tendency to paint her in a negative light and to be overly credulous when it comes leaks about the emails. (By the way, an email story by the NY Times that was pulled back because it lacked evidence was called “a mess” and “fraught with inaccuracies” by the paper’s public editor.)

Right now the claims that Clinton’s campaign is failing is hyperbolic and not supported by the evidence.

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.