That’s Not a Popularity Problem: THIS is a Popularity Problem!

Seems I missed a big ol’ nerdfight yesterday between FiveThirtyEight and Vox over how to display and interpret data comparing the favorable/unfavorable ratings and ratios of various presidential candidates. I like and admire all the people involved, and don’t really care who was right when or where. So I’ll just draw attention to Sam Wang’s bottom line on the underlying topic:

1. Hillary Clinton has massive name recognition. She is as well-known as a sitting President.

2. As of today, Hillary Clinton’s favorability is 13 to 22 points higher than every Republican in the race.

3. The best-known Republican, Jeb Bush, matches Hillary Clinton’s unfavorability, but lags her in favorability by 15 points. To match her net favorable-minus-unfavorable number, he would have to win over people who don’t have an opinion by a ratio of 1.7 to 1. That is a huge challenge.

HRC is basically where she needs to be to win a general election, at least from the point of view of personal popularity. The Republican candidates? Not so much.

What this really means is that the planted axiom that Clinton represents some sort of handicap for the Democratic Party going into this contest is not empirically sound. That could change, but so, too, could a lot of things.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.