Hillary Clinton Remains Untouchable In The Polls

A new poll shows that Hillary Clinton remains largely unstoppable on her quest for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, and she has a pretty clear path to the White House as well.

Texas From Hillary

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll shows that Hillary Clinton continues to be the overwhelming, indeed prohibitive, leader of the race for the Democratic nomination, and continues to lead her potential Republican rivals in head-to-head matchups:

Hillary Clinton has emerged from the rocky launch of her second presidential bid with a firm grip on Democratic voters and leads over three potential Republican rivals, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

The survey, taken in the days after Mrs. Clinton held her first public rally earlier this month, showed the former secretary of state garnering broad support from voter groups most likely to determine the election, including Latinos and women under the age of 50.

The poll underscores Mrs. Clinton’s strength as a candidate, both among Democrats and key constituencies that could tip the balance in a general election. But the results also show a clear desire among Democratic voters for a rival to emerge and hint at potential cracks in her support.

“She starts with advantages among very important groups,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democrat Fred Yang. He called her standing among fellow Democrats “the strongest and most advantageous” he has seen for any candidate entering a primary since he began working in politics in 1980.

Despite the strength of her early support, polls last week from the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire showed Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont pulling closer. And Mrs. Clinton’s failed 2008 bid offers a dash of caution, as well.

“When was the last time you saw numbers as strong as this?” asked Democratic pollsterPeter Hart, a member of the polling team. “It would be Hillary Clinton in the early part of 2007”—before Barack Obama surfaced as a significant challenger.

No similarly strong competitor has yet emerged this time, and Mrs. Clinton enters the 2016 contest with unusually broad support from fellow Democrats—some 92% of Democratic primary voters say they could see themselves supporting her; just 8% said they couldn’t.

Three-quarters of Democratic primary voters said she was their top pick to be the nominee, compared with the 15% who selected Mr. Sanders. Mrs. Clinton was the top choice of 71% of liberals and 91% of nonwhite Democratic primary voters, giving rivals little room to outflank her.


Looking ahead to the November 2016 election, Mrs. Clinton leads former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 48% to 40%, in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup. Her lead grows to 10 points in a face-off with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and 14 points against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The survey of 1,000 adults, conducted June 14-18, found that Americans are almost evenly divided on whether they want the next president to be a Republican or a Democrat. But among many key demographic groups, Mrs. Clinton outpaces the support for her party.

For example, Latinos favor a Democratic president over a Republican by nine percentage points, but Mrs. Clinton’s average lead over Messrs. Bush and Rubio is 42 points. Similarly, she draws more support than an unnamed Democrat among women under the age of 50.

Among other things, this poll seems to demonstrate that the purported rise of Bernie Sanders that many have been talking about over the course of the last several weeks is much less than meets the eye. Yes, we have seen some evidence that Sanders has picked up some interest in New Hampshire, but as I said last week that is somewhat to be expected given the fact that Sanders has been a fixture in neighboring Vermont for some thirty years and that he likely knows how to connect with rural New Hampshire-ites the same way he connects with people in his home state. Once you look beyond the Granite State though to places such as Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, Sanders is barely registering at all. Indeed, I am not certain that there is much of anything constituting a Bernie Sanders Presidential campaign outside of Iowa and New Hampshire and while those to states are important, they are not the end of the race and Clinton will obviously be able to out-organize Sanders and everyone else in the Democratic field as time goes on.

This poll also shows that Clinton remains the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination in a way that no non-incumbent candidate in either party in recent memory has been. While some political pundits and many conservatives continue to hold on to the trope that observations about Clinton’s seeming inevitability ignore what happened to her in 2008 when she lost the nomination to Barack Obama in a closely fought race. While this position is, to a large extent, driven by political pundits who need something to talk about and conservatives engaging in wishful thinking, it is a position not supported by the evidence. If you actually look at the polling from this point in 2007, in Iowa just to pick one state, it is obvious that Barack Obama was already a potential threat to Clinton this far out even if he was a candidate that most people didn’t view as being able to go the long haul against her. There is simply nobody in the Democratic field like that this year. Not Martin O’Malley. Not Lincoln Chafee. Not Jim Webb if he gets in the race. And, most certainly not a septugenarian socialist from Vermont named Bernie Sanders. It’s possible something could happen that could deny Clinton the nomination, but that something is going to have to be something of her own doing such a mistake of a nature, which seems unlikely, or a health problem that forces her from the race, which hopefully will not happen. Beyond that, it seems certain that Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee for President. Any analyst trying to tell you otherwise really shouldn’t be taken seriously at the moment.

On the General Election side, it is quite honestly far too early to be making any definitive predictions or drawing any conclusions. The Republican Convention is still a year away, and the Democratic Convention is a month after that. There is much that can happen over the course of that year that will impact the General Election race between Clinton and whomever the Republican nominee ends up being, and even more that will happen over the course of the four months between the conventions and the General Election. That being said, the fact that Clinton continues to lead all of her potential Republican opponent that she is put up against, and most especially the candidates that are most likely to win the nomination such as Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio, is something that should cause concern for the GOP. Beyond these raw popular vote match-ups, though, the Democratic Electoral College advantage is something that should make Clinton supporters quite pleased with her current position in head-to-head polling.

We are still very much in the early stages of the 2016 Presidential race, but Clinton continues to look like the strongest candidate in the field. While that could change as time goes on, the fact that she has maintained that position despite months of reported about reporting about stories involving email services and donations to the Clinton Foundation would seem to indicate that she’s close to being unstoppable.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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. edmondo says:

    Yep. She’s inevitable. Just like she was in 2008.

  2. Tyrell says:

    These polls are meaningless, of course. Hillary will have to start spelling out some issue positions. Talking about the latest pantsuit styles is getting old.
    I do think that she will give Putin a run for his money, and maybe will take the leader of Iran down to size.

  3. James Trout says:

    @edmondo: @edmondo: In June 2007, she was trailing John Edwards and Barack Obama in polls in Iowa. In contrast, the latest poll in Iowa has her up by 42%. Like it or not, this is not 2008 all over again.

  4. michael reynolds says:


    She has talked about her positions. Maybe the media you access isn’t listening.

  5. Tillman says:

    As others have written, and fairly sure you also wrote this at some point, the reason her position doesn’t move much in polls is that everyone already knows and has an opinion on her. Everyone paying attention, anyway. Even a good chunk of the people not paying attention know who she is, however, which is something that can’t be said for her competitors for the nomination or the presidency.

    Her position won’t deteriorate unless there’s a scandal — an honest-to-God scandal as opposed to the barely-better-than conspiracy theories we have now — or she screws up. Lord knows we’ve been inundated with more nonsense than news throughout Obama’s presidency, so it will take something substantially more serious to dislodge her.

  6. EddieInCA says:

    This is GREAT NEWS for John McCain.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:


    Lord knows we’ve been inundated with more nonsense than news throughout Obama’s presidency,

    If Obama can just keep drawing their fire Hillary can sneak in and steal the Presidency just like Obama did in ’08.

  8. superdestroyer says:


    Ms. Clinton is basically exempt from any scandal that would involve her. In addition, her popularity is disconnected from any position that she takes. Ms. Clinton is the future of candidates that are exempt from positions on issues, scandal, or media scrutiny.

    What is really amazing is how hard the media is working at pretending the Republicans are competitive when they are not.

  9. michael reynolds says:


    I don’t think anything short of a medical problem will stop her.

  10. michael reynolds says:


    Yes, thanks to the racists like you and the anti-gay bigots, the GOP has made it impossible for something like half the population even to consider voting Republican.

    Good work! The Democratic Party thanks you.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    Lord knows we’ve been inundated with more nonsense than news throughout Obama’s presidency, so it will take something substantially more serious to dislodge her.

    This is such a important point…Republicans/conservatives have been crying wolf for so long that most people don’t listen to them anymore…

  12. al-Ameda says:

    Everyone has made up their minds about Hillary Clinton already.
    There are no fence-sitters … none.
    Unless there is videotape footage of Hillary accepting a $1 billion contribution to the Clinton Foundation from the ISIS Community Service Fund, that does not change.

  13. michael reynolds says:


    That would certainly change my opinion of ISIS, though.

  14. Tillman says:

    @superdestroyer: She’s exempt from “scandals” that fail two basic criteria: a) that the scandals honestly involve her (cf. the Russian uranium deal)* and b) that the scandals go beyond partisan politics (cf. the email server folderol).**

    Her popularity is to an extent distanced from policy positions, but a) that’s true of most politicians and b) she’s stated positions during her campaign, such as the well-publicized speech she gave on immigration reform.


    What is really amazing is how hard the media is working at pretending the Republicans are competitive when they are not.

    I agree a hundred percent, though probably not in the light you intended.

    * I’m not certain she wasn’t involved due to the Clinton Foundation taking the donations or speeches or whatever, but I’ve still not seen the link that would cast aspersions on her. It’s not quite the same as Jeb delaying announcing his candidacy in order to collude with like-minded SuperPACs, where everyone just accepts that he’s defying the law (if not the word of).
    ** As a memory exercise, how annoyed were you when Mitt Romney didn’t release his tax returns during his candidacy in 2012? (We got a summary of ten years as I recall, not the returns themselves.) Romney defied a tradition while Clinton defied an ethical pledge, but the two events can be reliably contrasted — would-be public officials not releasing information to the public.

  15. superdestroyer says:


    Since Romney has no chance of winning in 2012, who cares what he did during his campaign. I find it odd that progressives who made big deals out of what Romeny did in high school or the dressage horse owned by his wife were so important then but that there is no issue about the Clintons that is important. now except that they are Democrats and they are going to win.

    And if one wants to see the future of politics just look at Clinton’s campaign slogan of “An Economy that Works for You” that is intentionally designed to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. What is why Ms. Clinton will not be beaten by any Republican but in the long run the Democrats will be disappointed in her administration.

  16. humanoid.panda says:


    Ms. Clinton is the future of candidates that are exempt from positions on issues, scandal, or media scrutiny. – See more at: https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/hillary-clinton-remains-untouchable-in-the-polls//#comments

    This is especially amusing because in the last 4 months Hillary did in fact face savage media scrutiny (include a week of attacks for not tipping at Chipotle) and had been laying a more concrete and radical set of policy stances than any candidate in decades.

  17. superdestroyer says:


    Having Fox News saying bad things about Ms. Clinton does not count because Fox News is irrelevant to policy, governance, and elections in the U.S.

    To think that the rest of the media outside the rightwing cul-de-sac have been anything but forgiving to Ms. Clinton and to all Democratic candidates is laughable. The idea that Ms. Clinton will ever face a gotcha question from anyone in the media is laughable. To think that Ms. Clinton will be pushed on policy and governance issues is naive.

    It is conceivable that some time in March 2016 virtually everyone except the delusional will realize that Ms. Clinton is going to be elected President in November 2016. That means the transition will last ten months and there is no amount of effort that wonks and pundits can do to make the presidential election look competitive. Maybe at least then wonks and pundits can get excited about the high probability that the Democrats will regain control of the Senate.

    My guess is that the weekly two minutes hates such as occurring this week about the Conference Flag will continue through the entire election period on an variety of issues. The end results will be that whoever the Republican candidate is, he will be lucky to carry the states that McCain carried in 2008.

  18. stonetools says:


    Speaking of which, I’d like more discussion at OTB of her policy positions. Just a suggestion…

    For example, Clinton spoke passionately about race last weekend . She is planning more speeches on the issue.

  19. HarvardLaw92 says:


    We got a summary of ten years as I recall, not the returns themselves.

    I seem to recall that he released a return for 2011, but went no further.

    This is almost certainly (IMO) because he availed himself of the 2009 amnesty for foreign accounts, which would have shown up on his 2010 return and which would not have been well received on the campaign trail.

  20. superdestroyer says:


    The problem with the link you provided is that the policy issue that Ms. Clinton addressed was the removal of Confederate flag from state capitals, a totally state issue. And what would Ms. Clinton do concerning race is the U.S.? Will a reporter ever ask her about the many articles by writers like Coates at the Atlantic who wholeheartedly support reparations and separate and unequal governance? Does Ms. Clinton want to increase forced integration, increase quotas, and punish any organization where desperate impact can be statistically shown?

    Are there enough automatic Democratic Party voters that politicians like Ms. Clinton finally be able to deliver to the black political establishment?

  21. al-Ameda says:

    I don’t see that as a campaign issue, especially not in a post-racial one-party-state America.

  22. mtnrunner2 says:

    As much as I disagree with Clinton on policy, she seems like the most sane Democrat I’ve heard, despite the fact of that being very faint praise.

    America is not ready to elect a Marxist (Bernie Sanders). If we do, I’ll move to China, where they still respect capitalism ; )

  23. Tyrell says:

    @stonetools: These speeches that she will be giving – I wonder what her tone will be.
    See: youtube.com/watch?v=6FlpbRFXC9E. (Hillary’s southern strategy)

  24. Barry says:

    @edmondo: “Yep. She’s inevitable. Just like she was in 2008.”

    Did you not read the article which Doug posted? They go into that deeply.

  25. Barry says:

    @Tyrell: “These polls are meaningless, of course. Hillary will have to start spelling out some issue positions. ”

    An A+ for total avoidance of what she has actually been doing.

    If nothing else, the horror-stricken gasps of journalists should have clued you in.

  26. Barry says:

    @Tillman: “…or she screws up.”

    From what I’ve heard, she’s hired a bunch of Obama’s campaign people, which is an outstanding sign of her being willing to learn from her defeat.

    Also, her positions are clearly not what her husband was saying in the 1990’s, both in policy and politics. Note the large number of old pundits who can’t realize that the world is different.

  27. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: “I don’t think anything short of a medical problem will stop her.”

    Or the economy crashing – which the GOP will try very hard to do.