Thought you were finished with the freneticism of election-year partisanship? Not quite. A new Public Policy Polling report was released yesterday, the bulk of which can be summed up in a single word: Hillary.
The new report was the latest in a string of indications that, should the tickets be announced tomorrow, the DNC spot is hers if she wants it. With the highest popularity rating of any current American politician (a whopping 61%), Clinton ranked substantially higher than any potential Democratic contender with 64% of her party’s voters saying they would support her candidacy in 2016. This compares with Vice President Joe Biden, the next strongest potential Democrat, with just 18%. Marco Rubio, the leading potential Republican, heads his party’s voters with 21% saying they would support his candidacy.
“Clinton has majority support from liberals and moderates, men and women, African Americans, Latinos, and white voters, and voters within every age group that we track,” the report said.
So strong was her lead that the institute went on to ask Democratic voters who they would vote for if Hillary didn’t run, a hypothetical that gave Biden a strong bump from 18% to 49%.
(On the day of the 2012 election, when asked by a reporter if this would be the last time Biden voted for himself, he wryly replied: “Oh, I don’t think so.”)
The other notable story from the report was Senator Rand Paul, who had been seated last month in sixth place among potential Republican contenders with 10% of the vote; following his recent 12-hour filibuster, the senator has rocketed up to second place with 17% of the vote.
Rounding out the Republican potentials were Chris Christie in third place with 15%, followed by Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush, both tied with 12%. On the Democrat side, Elizabeth Warren trails behind the vice president with 5% of the vote, with Andrew Cuomo behind her at 3%.
“When it comes to general election match ups Hillary Clinton leads the Republicans we tested against her by margins ranging from 4 to 7 points,” the report read, making her the candidate to beat on both sides. “We’ve consistently found that Christie would be the strongest Republican candidate [against Clinton] but the problem for him is that Obama voters (42/24) like him better than Romney voters (36/31), which could make securing the nomination a problem.”
When asked recently about the Hillary problem, an unconcerned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) remarked glibly that the Democratic ticket “is shaping up to look like a rerun of the Golden Girls.”
What does all this mean? For most of us, a reprieve. It seems at least for now that all major campaign activities (including donations) are on a temporary freeze until the former Secretary of State gives the official yay or nay. Major Democratic donors, many of whom have been following the Clinton machine since Bill headed up the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) in the early 1990s, have been holding back their funds and endorsements until they hear her final word.
This hasn’t stopped three pro-Hillary super PACs from cropping up — the most official being the Ready for Hillary PAC, co-founded by George Washington University Law Professor Allida Black and run by longtime Clinton supporter Adam Parkhomenko. “Our purpose is simple,” Black explained. “We are ready to work for Hillary to be president when she’s ready to run.” They’ve already started fundraising; their twitter account has over 54,000 followers.
For her part, Clinton hasn’t made the guessing easy. In a joint 60 Minutes interview with Barack Obama, Clinton noted cryptically: “I think that, you know, look, obviously the president and I care deeply about what’s going to happen for our country in the future. And I don’t think, you know, either he or I can make predictions about what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next year.” She then added, “I”m really proud of where we are.”
For now, at least, we’ll have to wait (Inauguration Day was two-and-a-half months ago, after all). She’s sitting in the all-time political sweet-spot with unheard of approval ratings, first-name recognition, a sea of pundits waiting on her every word, a country-full of diehard faithfuls just waiting to mobilize around the Clinton brand, and the ability to leave a (nearly) stellar political career with half the country shouting “encore!”
Who would give that up?