WASHINGTON - The latest CNN/ORC presidential poll shows that Hillary Clinton continues to lead all of the GOP contenders by wide margins.
If that's not depressing enough, the numbers show that none of the top Republican candidates are within 10 points of the former secretary of State in 2016 election matchups.
I think it's a bit early to take these preliminary polls very seriously, but veteran political analyst William Kristol says, on the contrary, Republicans "should worry about these numbers."
What Kristol means is that Hillary's early strength in the polls is a warning that Republicans had better choose their presidential nominee carefully in next year's caucuses and primaries. And, equally important, they'd better start laying the political groundwork and building on their issues now, because Hillary will be no pushover.
Why? Her campaign will be run by the nation's foremost political strategist and tactician -- her husband, Bill Clinton.
To soundly defeat her, the GOP nominee must be able to appeal to the widest possible spectrum of the American electorate with a proven, governing record of hands-on executive experience. In sharp contrast to Hillary who, like Barack Obama, had never run anything until he won the presidency. And it showed.
And that has led, as we've seen over the course of his administration, to a string of mismanagement abuses and scandals from the Veterans Administration to the Internal Revenue Service, six painful years of an underperforming economy, higher poverty, long-term unemployment and a shrinking workforce.
Compared to the weak field of candidates the GOP had to choose from in 2012, who included a former pizza chain executive with a shady past and a former senator who lost his seat in a failed re-election bid, the talent-heavy line-up in this presidential cycle is a breath of fresh air.
Notably, it includes half a dozen governors and former governors, and possibly more state chief executives who may decide to enter the race later this year.
Among the nearly dozen or so contenders now on the list, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush leads the pack with 16 percent, according to the CNN/ORC poll of GOP voters.
He is followed by Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin at 13 percent, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul with 12 percent, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 10 percent.
All the others fall into the single digits: Dr. Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon and conservative star, 9 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 7 percent, and freshman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, also at 7 percent.
Everyone else draws 5 percent or less, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who's announced his candidacy, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who ran in 2012, both at 4 percent.
A quick look at the success rate of senators winning the presidency over the past half century isn't very promising.
Until Obama's election in 2008, the only president who went directly from the Senate to the Oval Office was John F. Kennedy in 1960. And he was in his second term.
Since then, four former vice presidents and four former governors have occupied the White House between 1963 and 2008.
That's why it has always mystified me to see freshmen senators, seemingly on their first day in the Senate, begin thinking seriously that they are qualified to run the country and the free world.
No sooner had Ted Cruz -- who won election in 2012 -- taken his seat in the Senate in January 2013, than he had set his sites on the Oval Office. Two years into a six-year term, without any legislative accomplishments to speak of, he is an official candidate.
He delivers a great speech and since his election, has appeared all over the country, but ready to run America?
Hillary Clinton believes she's ready to run the country, too. But there is really very little in her resume to suggest she has had any impact on domestic or foreign policy -- either in the Senate or as secretary of State.
President Clinton gave his wife her first big challenge when he asked her to come up with a health care reform program he would send to Congress in 1993.
But the bill she drew up with a White House task force was so flawed and controversial that it was never brought up for a vote in the Democratic-run House or Senate.
It was a humiliating defeat for the Clintons who looked like they didn't know what they were doing, even with the advantage of a Democratic Congress.
She ran for the Senate in 2000 in heavily Democratic New York, against charges of carpetbagging, but won her seat handily, cruised to a second term and immediately began plotting to run for president in 2008.
Outgunned by Obama's rock star oratory, it was clear that Hillary was incapable of dealing with the rough and tumble of presidential politics.
Upon being picked for the post of secretary of State, a job for which she had zero foreign policy experience, she set a goal of visiting more countries than her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, a longtime national security expert.
In the end, Hillary left behind a mediocre, incompetent record at State that was entirely overshadowed by a major catastrophe in Benghazi, Libya where she turned a deaf ear to the anguished, repeated pleas to beef up security at the compound.
To this day, after countless House and Senate hearings, she has never fully explained what led to the deaths of our U.S. ambassador and three other Americans at the hands of terrorists who overran the consulate.
Nor why in the initial hours, her staff falsely described the attacks as a demonstration that got out of hand. "What difference, at this point, does it make?" she told a Senate hearing -- a remark that we will hear in GOP campaign ads throughout the 2016 election.
Can Hillary be defeated? Sure. But only by nominating an experienced, hands on candidate, preferably from a major state, who's run a government, enacted agendas, and knows what it will take to make America prosperous, safe and the leader of the Free World.