Hillary Meter Slipping To New Lows

Rasmussen reports that its polling shows support for a presidential run by Hillary Clinton at its lowest point in over a year. Only 27% would “definitely” vote for the former First Lady, while 43% have no intention of ever casting a vote for her:

Support for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential bid has slipped over the past month to the lowest levels recorded in two dozen surveys over the past year.
Today, just 27% of Americans say they would definitely vote for the former first lady while 43% would definitely vote against. Still, 59% of Americans believe it is somewhat or very likely that she will be the Democrat’s nominee in 2008.
Among Democrats, the number who would definitely vote for Clinton dropped 11 percentage points over the past two weeks.

Eleven points in two weeks is more than a statistical anomaly — that’s quite a meltdown. Hillary has had an eventful fortnight or so in politics, however. She not only publicly opposed the Alito nomination, but she also joined in the failed filibuster. She referred to Congress as a “plantation” run by mean Republicans. Her recent speeches on religion and abortion designed to position herself to the center apparently does not stand up to her more revealing actions and rhetoric elsewhere.
It also might reflect a decline in Democratic fortunes altogether. The party embarrassed itself in its zeal to smear Justice Alito and in the performance of the specific Senators who took part in their latest in a series of Judiciary psedo-lynchings. It also miscalculated terribly on the NSA intercept program, which not only once again painted them as soft on national defense but gave George Bush an opportunity to rebound from a polling collapse of his own. With Bush now at an improved 47% approval rating, the Democrats not only missed their opportunity but reinforced their image as weak and out of touch — an image that most seriously affects their frontrunner for 2008.
Will Democrats learn? Perhaps; they’ve already abandoned their initial position on the NSA program. They will probably need a new front-runner to promote a badly-needed image change. They should start looking outside of the Northeast.

Democrats Catching Up To Hillary’s Negatives (Updated And Bumped)

Hillary Clinton may cruise to re-election for the Senate in New York, but the Democrats have grown increasingly nervous about the prospect of her run for the Presidency in 2008. The New York Sun reports that internal and external polling show that Clinton faces a hostile electorate, particularly in the South and Midwest, and would lose against most Republicans despite her predicted strength in the primaries:

Senator Clinton’s emergence as the early and perhaps prohibitive favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 is fueling anxiety among Democratic strategists and operatives who are worried she would lose to a Republican in the general election.
Recent polling underscores some of those worries. In a CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll made public yesterday, 51% of voters said they would definitely not vote for Mrs. Clinton if she chooses to run for president in 2008. In a separate nationwide poll conducted this month for a spirits company, Diageo, and a political newsletter, the Hotline, 44% of all voters and 19% of self-described Democrats said they viewed the New York senator unfavorably.
According to Democratic Party insiders, such numbers are adding to skittishness about Mrs. Clinton’s potential candidacy. … A former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Richard Harpootlian, is among those who will own up to such misgivings. “Mrs. Clinton, because of some positions she has taken over the years, gets a visceral reaction to her here, both negative and positive. I’m afraid around the South and Midwest the visceral reaction is not good,” he told The New York Sun.

Part of this skittishness, as one person put it, has been the relentless partisan nastiness that the Democrats have exhibited throughout the Bush presidency. Even Leon Panetta admits that the negatives surrounding Hillary have something to do with the “bitter political fighting” and a continuation of “hate” politics. Had the Democrats settled into the traditional role of the loyal opposition, eschewing character assassination and instead offering coherent alternative strategies and legislative choices, the political temperature would have declined to a point where the nastiness both sides displayed during the Clinton’s term would have faded to dull memory.
Instead, the Democrats — especially in the Senate, where they have done everything possible to obstruct the Bush administration — have done little except act like petulant children. Nowhere has that been displayed more prominently than in the Judiciary Committee hearings on judicial nominees such as William Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown, and now most of all Samuel Alito. All of them have faced smear campaigns of the worst order, character assassinations led by a triumvirate of Democrats who during their political careers plagiarized speeches, employed staff that stole an opponent’s credit report and publicized it, and abandoned a young woman to drown in his back seat after a car accident. It has provided the American electorate a constant reminder of the slimy ethics of the Clinton era and a strong desire to put as much distance as possible between them and a return to that kind of governance.
Most amazing, one of the smears against Alito was bigotry. Can anyone tell me what besides conservatism these three judicial candidates have in common? First one correct in the comments gets the kewpie doll.
If the Democrats want their front-runner to stand a chance in the election, perhaps they should consider that their actions while out of power have hardly acted to convince anyone that they deserve to return to running the show. They need to govern themselves before we trust them to govern us.
UPDATE: Here’s the Gallup numbers. Gallup compares the response to Hillary to that generated by Condoleezza Rice, and it turns out that Rice winds up only slightly less polarizing than Hillary. She gets a 46% absolutely-not response from registered voters in Gallup’s poll, as opposed to the 51% for Hillary. That seems rather remarkable, considering that Rice has never really campaigned or talked about her position on issues other than foreign policy, where one presumes she supports Bush’s goals. Clinton has spent the last fourteen years playing hardball politics.
What’s even more remarkable is that her long history of working the stump only translates to 16% strongly supporting her. Rice’s lack of history in electoral politics should have put her far behind a seasoned politician like Hillary for passionate believers, and yet she polls within two points (14%) without ever having run for office before.

Richardson Balks With Phony Draft

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has received plenty of media attention for his centrist politics and his national appeal as a possible alternative to Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Presidential campaign. That may now be over for the former college pitcher, who has long claimed to have been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics as part of his biography. He now admits that the claim was a lie:

For nearly four decades, Richardson, often mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate, has maintained he was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics.
The claim was included in a brief biography released when Richardson successfully ran for Congress in 1982. A White House news release in 1997 mentioned it when he was about to be named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. And several news organizations, including The Associated Press, have reported it as fact over the years.
But an investigation by the Albuquerque Journal found no record of Richardson being drafted by the A’s, who have since moved to Oakland, or any other team.

Conveniently, after the AP checked out the claim, Richardson came to the same conclusion — at least, that’s how the former Clinton Cabinet member pitches it now. He now says that he believed he had been drafted because he saw it in a college program, as though a club which drafted a player would skip a minor step like contacting the player involved. He also says that because a couple of scouts thought that he could have been drafted, he actually was drafted. In fact, Richardson now says everything except what really apparently happened: he lied.
It certainly reminds one of the Clinton days, all right. Somehow, though, I don’t think that baseball fans need a lesson on the definition of “draft”. It’s what looks increasingly unlikely for Bill Richardson in 2008.

The Turkey-In-The-Straw Poll?

Hugh Hewitt has a Thanksgiving straw poll starting on his blog tonight, taking over for Patrick Ruffini now that Patrick has taken his official role for the Republican Party. Hugh’s added a few twists of his own, of course, as he will! Use the link on this post to check out the selections, and we can see how CQ readers see the various GOP presidential elections.
Also, don’t forget about the 2005 Weblog Awards at Wizbang — and feel free to nominate CQ for any of the many categories in which we might qualify …

Ruffini Calls Me Out

Patrick Ruffini has wrapped up his highly successful and intriguing presidential straw poll, designed to not only determine the front-running Republicans in the blogosphere but to break down the demographics in several categories. Readers can see the results at this post, and use the drop-down boxes to see the breakdowns. Patrick even compares the results based on blogger endorsements, noting that I had withheld mine and asking me for it now.
The win for Rudy Giuliani surprised me, given the less-than-centrist nature of the blogosphere. I love Rudy; he showed the world in the hours, days, and weeks after 9/11 that Americans would not allow themselves to be defeated. His grit, determination, and courage inspired all of us. He’s great on the stump, too, one of the best speakers we have in politics on either side. But that’s the problem with Rudy — he’s on either side in too many categories. For a party already grumbling about the lack of conservatism from the current GOP president, the pro-choice, pro-gay rights, Rockefeller-Republican Giuliani doesn’t make much sense. He could win handily in the general election, but he’d never get there.
In his way, Giuliani would be the Joe Lieberman of the GOP: the guy who could have won if his party had nominated him. The key is that the GOP have other great candidates on the bench.
CQ readers and the overall vote selected my early choice for the nomination as the #2 man. George Allen has sterling conservative credentials, and has served as both a Senator and a Governor, giving him a broad resume. He also has good rapport with an audience and a bit more amiability than Giuliani, who can come across as cold and angry at times. Allen also has good name recognition. Allen makes the best case for the top slot, including his status as a Southerner. Mike Huckabee would also be a good selection, although his name recognition doesn’t come close to Allen’s.
I wasn’t disappointed at all in John McCain’s showing. At one time, the Arizona “maverick” might have captured the imagination of the GOP base, but not after his series of defections. His two accomplishments, the BCRA and the Memorandum that stopped the filibuster fight, did not endear him at all to the base — and this poll reflects that very well.
Be sure to check out all of Patrick’s fine work. I especially liked the “fantasy” candidates idea, and the numbers there prove especially intriguing.

The Ruffini Poll

I have been remiss in not providing a link to the Ruffini Poll on the 2008 Presidential election. I think it’s too early to take much of this seriously; after all, we need to find out who can get themselves re-elected in their current positions, and we have plenty of time for those who look like a lock now to do something foolish and take themselves out of the running. A great example would be John McCain, who torpedoed himself by jumping in front of the Gang of 14 earlier this year.
Bear in mind that this poll isn’t scientific, and really only reflects the hyperaware readers of the blogs — all you highly educated and supremely tasteful CQ readers, for instance, across the entire political spectrum. If you hit the poll from the above link, we should be able to track the CQ preferences for the 2008 race. When Patrick closes his poll, I’ll share my preference with you … but I don’t want to bias the results. Enjoy! (via Hugh Hewitt)

Is It 2008 Already?

Gallup has decided to get a head start on the next presidential election by beginning to build its polling data now to read trends and create projections for later in the cycle. However, one handicap presents itself — a lack of declared candidates. Instead of waiting for volunteers, Gallup simply picks the two likeliest candidates from each side, in its own humble opinion, and asks registered voters who they prefer.
Gallup predicts that John McCain and Rudy Giuliani will emerge as the GOP frontrunners. For the Democrats, Gallup predicts that Hillary Clinton will face John Kerry in the primaries as her biggest rival. In that, they must be the only people other than Kerry himself to take his remaining potential as a major candidate seriously. Their own polling shows that; for the first time ever, more voters disapprove of Kerry than approve of him (48-42). And Kerry hasn’t even begun campaigning!
Putting aside Kerry, Gallup may have selected the other candidates reasonably well, although Giuliani’s entry into the race is far from certain. Interestingly, Gallup picked two moderates and no conservatives for the GOP, while they picked two liberals and no moderates (like Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee) for the Democrats. I think it highly unlikely that Republicans will settle for a choice between two centrists in the primary, and even less likely that the conservatives will settle on McCain as their standard-bearer. He has spent too much of his political capital on press performances while turning his back on Republican goals in the Senate. Giuliani generates broader respect, even if his politics gives him the tinge of Nelson Rockefeller. More likely would be Giuliani against a conservative, possibly one of the governors or George Allen, who serves in the Senate now but has held executive office before.
Not surprisingly, both Giuliani and McCain score remarkably similar scores against Hillary Clinton, who almost everyone figures will win the Democratic nomination. Both GOP candidate beat her, 50-45. (They both cream Kerry, 54-41, meaning that Kerry without Bush-hatred has no standing except for the base, who would vote for Nixon if he ran as a Democrat.) All that tells us is that a moderate will beat a liberal in a general election — hardly a stunning outcome. Gallup could easily reverse that result by pitting Bredesen or Mark Warner against, say, Rick Santorum or Jeb Bush.
Gallup had the right idea in building a model that could be used for tracking electoral trends. They may have done better to poll for better frontrunners than the quartet they anointed for the first round, Hillary notwithstanding.