The chinks in Hillary Clinton’s once impenetrable armor have been found. Hillary’s opponents have been able to link her stand – or lack thereof – on issues to reinforce voter’s doubts about her honesty and electability. Doubts about her positions on Iraq and Iran and her inability to provide straightforward answers on issues such as social security, access to her White House records, and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants have led to what seems like her first losing media cycle of the campaign. Even her husband – usually a media darling – seemed to stumble as he attempted to defend his wife from ramped up criticism.
While there are questions about the impact of Hillary’s performance on voters, what is clear is that the media has abandoned the invincibility story line and her opponents are trying to take advantage.
Some polls do show her lead over Barack Obama shrinking. A CNN poll had her lead down from 30% to 17% while a Washington Post/ABC poll shrank from 33% to 23%. And in the crucial state of Iowa a recent Zogby poll has her clinging to a 28 to 25 lead (down from 30 – 19) while Rasmussen saw her New Hampshire lead shrink to its lowest level this year
Whatever her national numbers, a loss in Iowa or even a narrow victory in New Hampshire would be a huge setback for the candidate perceived as the presumed nominee. Losing the expectations game can have enormous consequences.
What should also concern Hillary are voter’s negative perceptions of her. Polls continue to show her with negatives in the mid to high forties; higher than any of her rivals. Specifically, the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 43% of voters had a negative perception of her honesty. This seems to indicate that the criticisms are having an effect
Fueling these doubts are questions about her character and her electability and these are the points her opponents are driving home. Organizations like Stop Her Now have been raising the issue of access to White House documents for months, but it was only after the debate that it became an issue in the campaign. After Tim Russert asked Hillary about the issue, Obama went on record as finding her answers “a problem” and “disingenuous” thus kicking off another round of media stories questioning why the documents were being held until after the election.