Hillary Clinton Drops 9 Points, Still Cruising

Taegan Goddard reports that, “A comparison of WNBC/Marist Poll interviews conducted before and after last week’s Democratic debate reveals Sen. Hillary Clinton’s support among Democratic primary voters was 52% before the debate and 43% after the debate.”

To be sure, the margin for the Democratic subsample is +/-5% [PDF], so the drop is technically within that margin (since it applies to both the 52% and 43% numbers). Still, the numbers represent the center of a range and a 9 point drop is the best way to think of the results.

Of course, as Goddard also notes, she’s still blowing the doors off the rest of the field. According to the latest RealClear Politics average, she’s got a 21% lead over all her Democratic rivals nationally and the trend lines are moving in her direction. The pros will tell you that the national numbers are meaningless since we award convention delegates on a state-by-state basis. But she’s doing okay there, too:

It’s not too much of a stretch to say that the nomination is still hers to lose.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Public Opinion Polls, , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I’d go farther. I think it’s hard to imagine a set of circumstances under which she doesn’t get the nomination.

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    I can easily imagine realistic scenarios that have her not getting the nomination nod, but that is not the smart way to bet.

    If she does implode. then the democrats will have had Dean and now Clinton as the 10+ point favorite who implodes once voting starts. It will make for interesting democratic political thater, especially if the GOP takes the White House again in 2008.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I’d like to hear some realistic scenarios in which Sen. Clinton doesn’t get the nomination. She has a much more substantial organization than the Dean campaign did and she’s substantially more disciplined than Howard Dean was. There won’t be a “Clinton scream”.

    So I don’t think that implosion is a realistic scenario. Scandal? I think that most Clinton voters in the Democratic Party have already discounted that.

  4. yetanotherjohn says:


    I think the Edwards ads show they way, especially when you look at them with respect to the poll drops. Most voters (80%?) aren’t really paying attention. Like with Dean, many of them will make up their mind a week or two before the primary vote. Hillary is not a smooth as her husband. If she stumbles she won’t be as capable of passing it off.

    Some examples of what could cost her the nomination.
    1) Bill sex tape (especially if it is with some one under 18). Does it exist? I don’t know but you can’t rule it out.

    2) A few more yes/no questions where she says both yes and no in the same answer (again see the ad above).

    3) A back room deal gets revealed. Imagine some one having a recording on some of the back room deals she has been involved with. Depending on how brazen she is in trading favors, this could sink her (again, I have no idea if it exists, but I can’t rule it out).

    4) Major terrorist attack. A 9/11 level attack could shuffle the playing field as people consider the implications of deciding on the next commander and chief. How she reacts, what she says in the heat of the moment, etc. could have a huge impact. (I certainly don’t have any knowledge of a pending terrorist attack).

    The bottom line is if something shows up that seriously questions her ability to win next November or her fitness for the job, voters could easily turn on her.

    The latest CNN poll says 60% of the democrats would consider changing their mind on who to support (68% of republicans were also open to changing their mind). When you have that many open minds, a 20 or 30 point lead can disappear pretty quick with the right set of events.

    Now all that said, I agree that the nomination is her’s to lose. All I am saying is that it is not inevitable.

  5. Wayne says:

    I would agree with YAJ. In addition the laugh of Hillary in the only FOX news interview she did is close to the Dean scream and will come back up.

    Also Hillary has isolated herself from hard interviews and answer sessions. The only ones she has done is the last debate and one interview with FOX which she didn’t handle either one well. When she gets the Dem nomination, she will have a hard time avoiding hard questions. Also if she continues to bash the MSM when they do ask her a tough question, the MSM may turn on her. Without the MSM covering her back she will be in trouble.

  6. Tano says:

    …and of course, the Dean scream came AFTER his terrible showing in Iowa – which exposed the hollowness of his support.

    It was not the scream that sunk Dean, and thus for Hillary, it need not be a scream-like event. What happened is that the voters in Iowa didnt pay any attention to what the CW was telling them that they would do. They doubted Dean’s electability, found Kerry more presidential, and voted for him.

    Hillary has the non-electability’ cloud over her head – whether it is true or not, enough voters may think it true to cause them to search out (in the last few weeks, as is their habit) a different candidate. If Obama is looking strong at that moment, he may reap the benefit.