TNR’s Noam Scheiber, who now and then leads cheers for a Elizabeth Warren challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016, asks and partially answers today why HRC isn’t encountering the kind of progressive hostility that helped undo her in 2008.
Her lack of vulnerability to a left-bent challenge is hard to deny if you look at the numbers Scheiber cites:
Her favorability rating within the party stood at 90 percent in the latest Gallup poll, versus 81 percent this time eight years ago. A Wall Street Journal survey of Democrats during the book tour found that their opinion of Clinton has vastly improved since late 2007. Many more Democrats now consider her knowledgeable (88 percent versus 76 percent), compassionate (80 versus 69), easygoing and likeable (67 versus 49), aligned with them on the issues (76 versus 61), and honest and straightforward (75 versus 53).
More interestingly, Clinton’s popularity turns out to be highest in places you might least expect. She consistently performs better among liberals than among moderate and conservative Democrats, though it was the former who deserted her six years ago. A recent CNN poll found that only 11 percent of Democrats prefer a candidate who is more liberal.
Scheiber attributes this to a number of factors other than the one most often heard, the ending of the Iraq War. HRC was a team player in the Obama administration; her views actually turned out to be even closer to the president’s than was apparent in 2008. And of course, she again is the target of a large volume of venomous conservative attacks, rivaling the level she experienced back when she was the evil Red Queen of her husband’s presidency.
Scheiber goes on to spectulate at some length that if HRC is elected president the sort of fault lines that led progressive to distrust her in 2008 will reemerge in a second Clinton administration. For most Democrats, that’s a chance they will very happily take.