Obama Beats Hillary, Again

A new Gallup poll shows President Obama beating Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical 2012 Democratic nomination fight. Nobody should be surprised by that.

One of the recurring fantasies on the right over the past year or so has been the idea that Hillary Clinton would challenge Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination again in 2012. As ridiculous as the scenario of a (former) Secretary of State challenging the head of an Adminstration she had once been a part of might sound, it’s a meme that has persisted despite Clinton’s own denial that she’s interested in running for President again, and despite polls showing that President Obama remains hugely popular among Democrats.

Well, now there’s a Gallup poll that should answer the question once and for all:

PRINCETON, NJ — If Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were to challenge President Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2012, she would currently have the support of 37% of Democrats nationally, while 52% would support Obama.

NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory on Sept. 5 raised the possibility that Clinton might renew her battle against Obama for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, asking outside White House adviser David Plouffe, “Do you envision a primary challenge from another Democrat in 2012 against this president?” Gregory then asked more specifically, “Do you — can you rule out, based on actual information, that Secretary of State Clinton would not pursue the presidency again, would not challenge President Obama?”

Clinton was Obama’s main challenger for the 2008 Democratic nomination in a long-fought and, at times, contentious battle. Once Obama clinched the nomination, Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton strongly supported Obama’s nomination, and Hillary Clinton now serves in Obama’s cabinet as secretary of state.

President Obama has yet to announce his intentions for 2012, although Harry Truman in 1952 and Lyndon Johnson in 1968 have been the only presidents since Calvin Coolidge to decline to seek re-election when they were eligible to do so.


Obama’s strengths among Democrats in the hypothetical matchup with Clinton lie with college graduates and liberals, the latter of whom make up about 36% of this sample of 859 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Clinton does better among less well-educated Democrats and bests Obama among conservatives, who make up 22% of Democrats. Clinton does slightly better among women than among men.

So, there you have it. Two years after nearly fighting the Barack Obama to a draw for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton only garners 37% of the members of her own party. That, along with all the other reasons out there, should be reason enough to put these absurd “Hillary 2012” fantasies to rest.

As things stand right now, President Obama’s job approval rating among Democrats exceeds 80%. Unless and until that number changes, the idea that he will face a serious primary challenge (as opposed to an un-serious one, which is certainly possible) is little more than a fantasy perpetuated by people who, until Barack Obama came along, considered Hillary Clinton to be their greatest political enemy.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, 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. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Doug, are you aware of how Obama won the nomination? The caucus versus the vote thing? You do know who had the most actual votes right? Polls

  2. mantis says:

    Polls had the most votes? All hail President Polls!

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    Mantis, don’t make fun of Zels simply for a typo. He meant Poles. It’s a little known fact that in many states you can vote for either a candidate OR an ethnic group.

  4. Brett says:

    Clinton would have to be insane to try running against him again. Aside from the fact that she would lose, primary challenges to a standing President tend to be pretty ugly affairs that generally result in both losing the election.

  5. Far more realistic scenario: will Hillary challenge Joe Biden for the VP slot in 2012?

  6. mantis says:

    Far more realistic scenario: will Hillary challenge Joe Biden for the VP slot in 2012?

    More realistic than challenging Obama? Debatable. A realistic possibility? No way.

    The president/candidate chooses his/her running mate, and the party nominates that choice. It has been that way for a long time. That ain’t changing for 2012.

  7. Tano says:

    No one with the slightest understanding of American politics would ever entertain the notion of Hillary running against Obama. Ferchrissakes people, she is the Secretary of State in his administration. Can you even begin to comprehend the negativity that would attach to the senior Cabinet official quitting her job halfway through the term to run against her boss? What would be her issue? That he has a bad foreign policy? Even though she totally owns it as much as he does? That he passed healthcare reform? While she failed?

    It is getting quite boring seeing this seemingly endlessly line of people ginning for a cheap headline, selling this line to people who haven’t a clue. Why do we have to talk about it?

  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    “It is getting quite boring seeing this seemingly endlessly line of people ginning for a cheap headline, selling this line to people who haven’t a clue. Why do we have to talk about it?”

    Why indeed. Total nonsense.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    Since none of the GOP stars out there have a chance to defeat the president in 2012, why not throw out Hillary’s name, I guess…