Hillary Clinton Remains The Overwhelming Choice Of Democrats For 2016

If Hillary Clinton is going to have a serious challenge in 2016, the person who will do that has yet to emerge.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

New polling from NBC News and Marist College shows Hillary Clinton blowing any potential opponents away in each of the two states where the 2016 race for President will begin:

Memo to Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and other liberals: Democrats are overwhelmingly ready for Hillary Clinton to run for the White House in 2016. But is the general electorate ready? Well, not as much. That’s the conclusion from new NBC News/Marist polls of Iowa and New Hampshire, where Clinton crushes Vice President Biden among Democratic voters in a hypothetical matchup – 70% to 20% in Iowa, and 74% to 18% in New Hampshire. What’s more, Iowa Democrats view Clinton positively by a whopping 89%-to-6% score, and New Hampshire Democrats are even more welcoming, giving her a 94%-to-4% favorable/unfavorable rating. These numbers come as liberals begin gathering on Thursday for the three-day “Netroots Nation” conference in Detroit, where Biden, Warren and other Democratic politicians will address the annual progressive conference. The NBC/Marist polls, however, did not test Warren in the hypothetical Democratic match ups. But if Clinton looks like an unbeatable juggernaut in the Democratic presidential race – if she runs, of course – she appears more vulnerable in a general-election contest. In the presidential battleground state of Iowa, Clinton is tied with Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican (45% to 45%), and leads New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by just one point (44% to 43%). She holds larger leads against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (46% to 42%, Sen. Marco Rubio, a florida Republican, (49% to 40%), Sen. Ted. Cruz, a Texas Republican (49% to 37%) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (50% to 37%). In hypothetical general-election match ups in New Hampshire, Clinton is ahead of Paul by three points (46% to 43%), Christie and Bush by five points (47% to 42%), Walker by nine points (48% to 39%) and Cruz by 13 (51% to 38%).

In a similar vein, a new Gallup poll shows Clinton as both the most well known and the most liked of all the potential Presidential candidates of either party:

More than half of the public views the former secretary of State favorably and just over a third views her unfavorably.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), who heads to Iowa Thursday to test the 2016 waters, is among the potential GOP presidential contenders Gallup included in its survey.

Nearly two-thirds of people said they are familiar with Christie. Thirty-three percent view him favorably and 32 percent view him unfavorably.

Sixty-five percent also said they are familiar with former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.). Thirty-one percent said they view him favorably and 34 percent view him unfavorably.

The public is least familiar with Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) among potential GOP candidates.

A majority of the public also said they are familiar with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.).

Huckabee and Paul received the highest net favorability ratings with 12 percentage points and 9 percentage points, respectively.

As for Clinton’s potential Democratic competitors if she runs, just over half said they are familiar with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.). Thirty-eight percent said they are familiar with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with 21 percent viewing her favorably, and 17 percent viewing her unfavorably. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) was the contender with whom people are the least familiar.

Eighty percent said they are familiar with Vice President Joe Biden, but he received a negative net favorability rating.

As usual, all of the caveats about early polling in Presidential elections apply here. We are more than two years before the General Election, and a year and a half away from the beginning of the Democratic primaries. As we’ve seen in past election years, many things can change between now and then. Hillary Clinton could stumble in some way that creates an opening for another candidate, for example. She could decided not to run at all, although that seems rather unlikely at this point unless there is some personal or health issue that makes such a decision necessary. Domestic or international events could change the way that Democratic voters see Clinton as a candidate and cause them to rally around someone else as an alternative. Or, there could be some unknown “X Factor” out there that changes everything that we aren’t even anticipating as we set here in mid-July 2014. It’s also worth noting that these poll numbers are still influenced to a significant degree by how familiar people are with the names mentioned in the poll. Given the fact that she has been a part of American political life since here husband entered the race for President in late 1991, it’s fair to say that there are very few people who don’t know who Hillary Clinton is. You can’t say the same for Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Cuomo, or Martin O’Malley. Those of us who pay attention to politics on a regular basis know about them, of course, but that’s not generally true for most Americans. That lack of familiarity will have an impact on how they do in a poll against someone who has been a part of American political life for more than two decades now.

As things stand right now, though, it seems fairly clear that there are a number of conclusions that I think we can reach about the state of the race for the Democrats. More than any other open seat race I can recall in either party since I started following Presidential campaigns, which basically dates back to the 1980 campaign, the Democrats heading into 2016 have not just an overwhelming but a seemingly prohibitive favorite. Clinton’s numbers in this cycle, as many has noted before, are far better than they were at a comparative time in the 2008 cycle and her lead over her nearest opponent is far, far larger than her lead over Barack Obama was at this point in the race eight years ago. For that reason alone, it seems clear that trying to make comparisons between that race and this one don’t really make any sense. Yes, it’s possible that someone could emerge from the Democratic pack to pose the same challenge to Clinton that Barack Obama did in 2008. Based on the numbers right now, though, it looks even less likely than it did eight years ago and, to be honest, none of the candidates mentioned strike me as people who could light the same kind of populist fire that Obama did when he began to overtake Clinton in 2007 and heading into the actual primaries in 2008.

The second observation that one can draw from these polls is that Clinton’s supposedly lackluster book tour does not seem to have hurt her very much with the general public. Throughout the month or so that Clinton has been on the road selling Hard Choices she’s come under fire a number of times, most notable for comments she made about the Clinton’s financial situation after President Clinton left office in 2001, comments which I covered here at OTB here and here. Her interviews on CNN and elsewhere have been endlessly parsed and criticized by pundits on all three cable news networks who have then gone on to pontificate on what these statements mean for her campaign in 2016. The RNC has even turned some of the comments into an ad that ran on cable news for some time last month. So far at least, it doesn’t seam as those comments and that criticism has had much of an impact on public opinion. In addition to being yet another reminder to those of us who comment on politics regularly that what we think is significant often doesn’t really mater to the people who are going to decide the 2016 election, this suggests that perhaps the public sentiment for Clinton is so high that even a few mis-steps like this are not going to hurt her. That doesn’t mean she can afford to run a gaffe-filled campaign, of course, but it does suggest that she has a reservoir of goodwill, at least among Democratic voters, to draw upon that it could make it hard for any opponent to make serious inroads against her.  All of that could change, of course, but as things stand right now Hillary Clinton is in an astoundingly good position.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    Memo to Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and other liberals: Democrats are overwhelmingly ready for Hillary Clinton to run for the White House in 2016. But is the general electorate ready? Well, not as much.

    I think I see it right now as most Democrats do – it’s Hillary’s race to lose. Part of it is the “First Woman President” factor – if she’s in, that factor alone puts some juice into the race for botth the nomination and the election. Apart from that, the field is filled with ‘so what’ possibilities like Biden or Warren.

  2. stonetools says:

    The Bush Administration’s eight years and the Republican’s massive resistance campaign during the Obama years has concentrated liberals’ minds wonderfully. They understand that winning the Presidency and regaining the House ( and if necessary, the Senate) is job #1, and that internecine fights ( Is Hillary too hawkish? Shouldn’t we choose a candidate that’s “really” liberal?) just pale into significance beside the fierce urgency of the Republican threat.Nobody, but nobody, any longer thinks that the two parties are “the same” from a liberal POV, or that there is a chance for a “middle way” or “reasonable bipartisan compromise” with the current Republican Party.
    And whenever the Democrats lose sight of this, there is a Hobby Lobby decision (written by Bush appointee Alito) to get the Democrats focused again.
    Thanks, Republicans!

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    The Republican is probably destined to be another clown car circus. I think Rand Paul has the best chance in the general election although I’m not sure he can win. Christie still has some legal hurdles to overcome and I’m still not sure he will be accepted by the Republican base. If Scott Walker loses he race for governor, a real possibility, he’s toast. Jeb Bush is stuck with his last name and his position on immigration. Forget Marco Rubio, it will become obvious fairly quickly that he’s not too bright. We will see several occupants of the 2012 Republican Clown car jump in the race which will make the process entertaining.

  4. Tillman says:

    @stonetools: Aside from basic cheerleading/party unity, there have to be plenty concerned with how bad she is at campaigning. She’s squandered huge leads like this before, and so far (and again, it’s really damn early), she’s shown no indication of trying to get better at it.

    I mean, if the Democrats are going to settle for a “lesser of two evils” candidate, so be it. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  5. CSK says:

    Some people I know–and admittedly I’m from her neck of the woods–would prefer Warren. I suppose she’s a possibility. It would depend on how well she connects with the public while she’s campaigning for Alison Grimes, Kay Hagan, Natalie Tennant, and Michelle Nunn.

  6. superdestroyer says:


    What you are saying is that the U.S. is becoming a one party state and the questioning of the elite establishment will not be permitted for anyone who wants a career in politics. What is amazing is that anyone really believes a poll that shows that the Repubicans can be competitive in a national election.

  7. C. Clavin says:


    What you are saying is that the U.S. is becoming a one party state

    No…that’s what you type every single f’ing day after day after day after day after day after day………

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @superdestroyer: I believe Stonetools said just the opposite, that Democrats fear the election of a Republican president is entirely possible. Further, given the current state of the Republican Party, election of a Republican president would be a bloody disaster, as the election of W was.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    This Clinton thing is becoming a bit frightening.
    I’m in the building industry. All the time you hear builders saying they build the boring cookie-cutter houses they do because that’s what people want. But people buy those houses because that’s all that’s offered to them by the builders. Thus nothing fresh ever comes to market.
    I’m encouraged by her seeming intent to take up inequality* as an issue….but that certainly doesn’t make her unique in the Democratic Party. I think Warren, who is among those not running, is more convincing on that front.
    From the contenders point of view…it won’t be easy raising campaign contributions against Clinton…who gets excited about giving money to a losing cause? I mean…other than Republicans donating to their Presidential candidate?

    *Inequality…that’s the national discussion started by Occupy…the movement Doug denigrated as nothing more than drum circles and said wouldn’t amount to anything.

  10. superdestroyer says:


    But do the Republicans really have a reasonable chance of winning the White House? They do not. All one has to do is Google electoral college blue wall and read the first few posts. There is no way that the Republicans are going to win in 2016. However, the Democrats want to make sure that as the U.S. heads to being a one party state that everyone knows how to act. That means that the Democrats have to continually generate Bogeymen to keep the voters in line. That is why Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, and Todd Akin are mentioned much more that the governor of the blue states, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or anyone else who actually has influence over policy or governance. Look at the difference between the Tea Party types on the right who have tried to change thngs at the ballot box versus the Occupy Wall Street who were left voting for the Democratic Party establishment.

    If Hillary Clinton has no clear challenger in the Iowa Caucus or the New Hampshire primary, can the U.S. really call itself a democracy anymore?

  11. Just 'Nutha Ig'rant Cracker says:

    @superdestroyer: The fact that the GOP cannot produce a workable Presidential candidate in not Hillary’s fault. Nor is it the fault of Democrats determined to turn the nation into a one-party state (which as I recall was part of the plan in Karl Rove’s “permanent Conservative majority” scheme that Rush and others were all into during the first years of Dubya’s term in office). The fault lies with the fact that we tried out “permanent Conservative majority” and didn’t like what it tasted like.

    If you want the nation to not lapse into being a one-party state, stop encouraging the car-wrecks that your party seems to abound with from running for office.

    (Cue superdestroyer’s mimicing Doug’s “what makes you think I’m a Republican” shtick in 5…4…3…2…)

  12. Andy says:

    Clearly this country needs some stability, so we desperately need a Clinton v Bush campaign for 2016. Whoever wins should get 8 years and then we can have Chelsea v Jenna or Barbara in 2024 for another 8 years. If Chelsea wins, that’s when it gets interesting because the Clintons will have run out of children who can run. Maybe Jenna or Barbara will switch parties so we can have a Bush v. Bush race in 2032. Or if Chelsea loses in 2024 to the Bush twins, she’s got another shot. Alternatively, maybe the Kennedy’s will have themselves straightened out and can take the reigns until Sasha and Malia are old enough to be serious contenders.

  13. Mushtaq Dean says:

    Mushtaq Dean

    If polls are the criterion to measure someone’s popularity , and if polls are the true reflection of peoples’ choice for their president, then Hillary Clinton has no competitor to compete her.

    In the majority of polls, with an exception of a thinly few, she has made a stunning performance outdistancing both her own party’s candidates as well as the opponents. She defeated Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren as DEMS candidates and wretched Chris Christie and Jeb Bush as REPS candidates.

    The people are enlightened, far-sighted and prudent who are concentrating on Hillary Clinton expecting her to be the next president. They know the time ahead for USA is critical.

    Currently, USA is stuck knee-deep in a sludge of problems, domestic and international, the conditions would aggravate if no effective aid is reached to pull it out.

    Problems that are hanging include: Al-quada threat. Intervention in the Middle East is becoming more demanding. Afghanistan needs settlement to justify adventure, expenditure and loss of human lives.where USA has suffered numerous hardships, had a large number of families destroyed, spent huge money Relations with Russia, China, and Iran rigidly require more alertness, keeping in view the recent scuffle with Russia over ukarine.

    Believably, another report of Gallup would increase our interest and confidence in Hillary Clinton.

    (March 21, 2014)
    Gallup publishes its results under Clinton’s Top Selling Points in 2016 first female President: “People are overexcited that they would see the first female president in the national history. Others are happy with her being experienced, capable, qualified, and intelligent”

  14. superdestroyer says:

    @Just ‘Nutha Ig’rant Cracker:

    Considering how many times I have called Karl Rove an idiot and how many times I have stated that any Republican who believed that they had a permanent majority is a Republican who cannot count or do the simpliest of math, why would you consider me a Republican.

    However, I am not a dewy-eyed liberal who believes that every problem can be solved with more money. Even liberal writers have pointed out that the Democrats have not proposed enough taxes to fund all of the their current proposals, let alone any new ones. This is on top of the project budget deficits in the out years. http://www.vox.com/2014/5/7/5681002/the-buffett-rule-wont-pay-the-tab-for-the-liberal-agenda

    What I keep pointing out is many more people should think about what happens when the Republicans no longer field viable candidates, when the number of automatic Democratic Party voters goes above 50%, and when the Democratic Party Primary is the real election in the U.S.

    As a last example, look at how many progressives have gotten excited about voter ID laws in southern states when it is really just an issue to bash Repubicans without thinking about all of the deep blue states that have closed party primaries and where the winner of the Democratic Primary will win in a rout in the general election.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    As a liberal, I am not so sure that we want her, as it is that we are accepting of her. If what it takes to retain the White House is Hillary, than Hillary it is. Personally, I would prefer Biden. If nothing else, it would be fun.

  16. beth says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve seen it written that people like the idea of Hillary more than they like the reality of Hillary, which I think is pretty spot on.

    If it were up to me, Biden would get to be vice president for as long as he wants, no matter who wins the presidency.

  17. Tillman says:

    @Andy: And out of left field, a frickin’ Roosevelt!!! Hundred years out of the game, no worse for wear!!!

  18. Todd says:

    I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but I just do not like Hillary Clinton. That being said, for many of the reasons already stated in this thread, I will almost certainly vote for her against just about any Republican nominee. If by some chance the Republicans actually nominate Rand Paul (highly unlikely), I may have a tougher decision. Outside of his nutty economic views, I think he’d make a better President than Clinton … especially on foreign policy .. which ironically (given her Sec State experience) will probably be one of the issues she tries to run on.

  19. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: “If Hillary Clinton has no clear challenger in the Iowa Caucus or the New Hampshire primary, can the U.S. really call itself a democracy anymore?”


    Next question?

  20. superdestroyer says:


    If 99% of the voters have no real say in who is the next president, are will really a decocracy? If more than 50% of the voters automatically vote for the Democratic candidate in a general election, are we really a democracy? If issues of policy or governance are not decided or even influenced at the ballot box, are we really a democracy?

    The Democrats are using the sound bite about the U.S. being beholden to the Oligarchs but then go out and over for nothing but Oligarchs. So much for having a government that is worried about elections.