Poll: 72 Percent Of Democrats And Independents Want A ‘Robust’ Democratic Primary

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Apr 11, 2015 2:30 PM
Poll: 72 Percent Of Democrats And Independents Want A ‘Robust’ Democratic Primary

Democrats do not want a coronation, but sometimes you can’t always get what you want. Hillary Clinton is announcing her 2016 bid this Sunday–and the nomination is all but locked up for her. Nevertheless, a new Bloomberg poll found that 72 percent of Democrats and Independents want a competitive Democratic primary. Yet, it’s highly unlikely that a serious challenger could launch a successful insurgent candidacy a la Barack Obama this cycle; most of the possible candidates mentioned as potential 2016 primary challengers to Hillary have crumbled

Vice President Joe Biden has been traveling to the right spots, but he has zero campaign infrastructure set up at the moment. However, a Draft Joe movement did emerge in the past few weeks. Right now, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley seems to be the one poised to offer a Democratic alternative to Clinton in 2016. Two things continue to plague the Clinton team. One, the email controversy appears to be huge deal with voters, with 53 percent saying Clinton has not been truthful regarding disclosing all the details relating to her private emails address and server. Second, gender doesn’t seem to play an issue; 83 percent said it didn’t make a difference if she could become the first female president. Only 12 percent polled were more inclined to vote for her because of that fact:

As Clinton prepared to formally announce her candidacy on Sunday, nearly three-quarters of Democrats and independents in the survey said it would be a good thing for the Democratic Party if she were to face a "serious" challenger for the nomination. Democrats and independents hold the same view, with 72 percent of both groups saying her party would be best served by a robust primary.

That presents a potential opening for other Democrats considering bids, including former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and possibly Vice President Joe Biden.

Facing a serious challenge "would prepare her for debates and things like that against the Republican nominee," said poll respondent Marc Witte, 66, a Democrat and clinical counselor from Poland, Ohio. Yet Witte, who supports Clinton, isn't quite sure he wants Clinton to face an overly combative challenger. "That could be a bad thing," he said.

The poll, taken April 6-8, also indicates that Clinton will confront continued skepticism about whether she has been truthful in saying that she's turned over all e-mails relevant to her time as secretary of state. Fifty-three percent of Americans say they think she purposely withheld or deleted some relevant e-mails from a private account and home server she used while in office. Just 29 percent of respondents said they thought she was being truthful.

Even 26 percent of Democrats believe she has purposefully withheld e-mails or deleted them.

The email scandal has been killing her favorable ratings. Additionally, Bloomberg noted that for those who do view her favorably; more than a quarter said she hasn’t been honest about her emails.

It’s becoming clear that Team Hillary made a huge miscalculation over their rationale regarding the American voter not caring about the emails. Some of those polled by Bloomberg consider this issue a testament to one’s character–and the Clintons have a checkered history with that aspect of politics, especially when Bill was elected in 1992.

For the most part, Democrats will be voting for Hillary in 2016, but her support has dropped ten points. In June of 2013, 52 percent of Democrats said they would definitely vote for Clinton in 2016; that number has dropped to 42 percent in April. Almost thirty percent of Democrats are either definitely not voting for her, or they’re unsure, which is an increase of almost ten points from June of 2013.

When you breakdown the gender politics, unsurprisingly liberals and women are more inclined to vote for Hillary due to the fact that she’s a woman, and could be the first female president. For men and women who consider themselves independent, those approval numbers take a dive–as usual:

Women and liberals are more likely than others to say they'd be more inclined to vote for Clinton because of her gender. Seventeen percent of women say the idea of electing the first female president makes them more inclined to vote for Clinton, more than double the percentage of men who say that. Among those who consider themselves liberals, a quarter said Clinton's gender makes them more likely to back her.

As is typical for Clinton, more women view her favorably than men, 54 percent to 42 percent. Still, her standing with women has dropped 9 points from two years ago.

Her ratings have suffered among independent women, with 44 percent viewing her favorably and 48 percent unfavorably. That’s a profound drop since June 2013, when that group viewed her favorably by almost a 2-1 ratio, 60 percent to 33 percent.

Last note: The number for independents and Democrats saying a robust Democratic primary would be a good thing might be slightly lower (or higher) than 72 percent. The sample size for that question was only 687. For a more accurate number, it should have been closer to 1,000 respondents, like the overall Bloomberg poll. Nevertheless, the email fiasco–and the fact that she’s just a polarizing figure who gets more unpopular the longer she sits in the limelight–has proven to be quite the factor in chipping away at her approval numbers. At the same time, it’s a bit odd that some Democratic strategists thought that the optics looking dishonest wouldn’t matter to voters.

A ten-point drop among fellow Democrats, not being viewed as honest, swing state support waning; Hillary is limping out of the 2016 gate, but that could change.