The two big national polls released earlier this week (from CNN/ORC and WaPo/ABC) have without question put paid to the earlier talk that Hillary Clinton’s approval ratings were impervious to the pounding she has been receiving from the MSM and the Republican Party. Republicans, of course, interpret this as HRC’s ratings being in “free fall,” while Democrats are just “worried.”
But at the Monkey Cage John Sides puts this in some much-needed perspective by noting that HRC’s popularity losses have mostly been among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. She’s also lost some ground in the small tribe of “pure independents,” but they are less likely to vote than partisans.
[T]he fact that Clinton has lost ground among Democrats suggests that the negative news coverage of the past two months — e.g., regarding her e-mails while secretary of state — actually took some toll. If it were just making Republicans like her less, that would be one thing. This is different.
But there is good news for Clinton too. Clinton’s standing among Democrats will likely only improve as the campaign goes on — particularly when there she has a clear Republican opponent. As I’ve noted before, campaigns almost always rally each party’s voters behind their nominee. So Clinton’s decline among Democrats is probably temporary.
I’d add that we have also entered the competitive stage of the Invisible Primary for 2016, when HRC’s sky-high ratings among Democrats were bound to decline. As Jonathan Bernstein put it in commenting on Side’s analysis:
Some things in elections are difficult to predict, but the cycle of enthusiasm for presidential nominees isn’t one of them.
That doesn’t mean Democrats can count on HRC winning, by any means. But it does mean the current panic about her is a pretty obvious over-reaction. If and when she becomes the Democratic nominee for president, her Democratic numbers are going to improve significantly. It could happen sooner if the barrage of attacks on her falls flat or gets boring.