Before House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking defeat, the biggest story of the week was Hillary Clinton’s stumble out of the gate of her book tour, with a comment that she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House and a clarification to a factual error in the memoir.
On Wednesday, a new Gallup Poll showed that her favorability rating had dropped to its lowest level since 2008, the year she lost her last presidential run.
The hard truth is that that things will only get worse for the former secretary of State before they get better, even if she and her team do everything perfectly.
Clinton’s numbers have been artificially high since she’s been out of partisan politics and are due for a correction as she wades back into the mudslinging of the daily news cycle and Republicans head to their battle stations.
As Jonathan Chait notes, Clinton as secretary of State and then a private citizen has been hugely popular for the same reason: “First ladies are almost always popular (the only recent exception being Clinton herself, a problem she solved by removing herself from the partisan spotlight), and it’s why even hated former presidents like Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush recover their popularity” when they leave office.
From the moment President Obama selected Clinton as his first secretary of State, and thus elevated her above the partisan fray, old Republican foes warmed to her, praising the choice and even using her to attack Obama. Clinton’s popularity peaked in early 2011, just after Republicans took control of the House and initiated the first debt-ceiling standoff, and then again as Clinton was stepping down and leaving government altogether.
But staying out of politics is obviously not something Clinton can do as she gets back into politics, so her numbers are bound to fall no matter how well she plays her cards before they settle at a more natural point.
Republicans have already stepped up their attacks in recent weeks, and Clinton has started weighing in on the political fights du jour, such as when she said in Chicago on Wednesday morning that Cantor lost because his tea-party opponent “basically ran against immigrants.”
Just because the correction is inevitable doesn’t mean it won’t be painful. Clinton will have to endure rounds of media speculation, stoked by Republicans, that the American people are rejecting her, or that she’s mortally wounded herself with a number of missteps. “The more she reminds people [of herself], the more she will drop,” Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer tweeted in response to today’s Gallup Poll.
Her allies have long feared that the press will “turn on” Clinton, and the winds indeed seemed to shift a bit on the first day of her media blitz, as rosy stories about, say, her guilty pleasure (chocolate), gave way to more incredulous dispatches from her meticulously controlled campaign-like event and hard-nosed analysis about her gaffes.
As things get even worse, Clinton may ask herself if another run is really worth it.
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Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.