What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

What does the new polling on the potential general election matchup between Senators Clinton and McCain mean? In short, very little -- at least as it pertains to 2008.

The latest CNN poll included two questions on the 2008 elections, one pitting Hillary Rodham Clinton against John McCain, the other pitting Hillary Clinton against John McCain. With Rodham, the New York Democrat leads by 7 points; without it, the Arizona Republican leads by 1 point. This is an interstesting piece of information, one that Clinton's advisors will no doubt keep in mind as they start making decisions about how to run a presidential campaign should the Senator indeed jump in the race.

But leaving the internal workings of Clintonistas aside, does this poll indicate that Hillary Clinton -- er, Hillary Rodham Clinton can win handily in 2008? No, though it doesn't say she can't win, either. In fact, the CNN poll tells very little about the 2008 general election, or at least less  about that contest than it does the current political environment.

Taking a look at the long list of 2008 general election polling including this most recent CNN poll, it appears that Senator Clinton, whether with or sans Rodham, has improved markedly since the summer and early fall. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from back in July showed Clinton (no Rodham) trailing McCain by 9 points, and other polling from throughout 2006 has shown McCain up by anywhere from 7 to 12 percent. A Time poll from July in which Rodham was included showed McCain leading by just 2 points, 49 percent to 47 percent.

While it could be the case that Sen. Clinton's star has been on the rise just as Sen. McCain's has begun to wane (the second is certainly possible given McCain's extreme partisan actions and hard right stances of late), more likely these shifting numbers are merely indicative of the Republican Party's growing unpopularity among Americans and the Democrats' corresponding bump in metrics such as the generic congressional ballot. Put in other words, as more Americans sour on the Republican Party, so too will they sour on potential Republican presidential nominees -- media darling John McCain included.

The media can certainly continue to poll on the 2008 presidential election. That's their prerogative. But at this point, such polling today is close to meaningless -- at least in terms of telling us who is going to be the 44th President.

Tags: 2008, Hillary Clinton, polling (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

The polling mostly tells us what media political analysts think. Who they ask questions about indicates who they think is a serious candidate. There's danger in this if their portrayal of who is and is not a serious candidate becomes reality through echo chamber lock-in. The conventional wisdom continuously needs a good swift boot to the head.

Also, Bill Richardson and Russ Feingold are the most interesting 2008 potential candidates. If I say that enough, maybe it'll be true.

by bolson 2006-10-23 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

I think it reflects Democratic momentum. With so many voters wanting the GOP out in the 2006 elections they may also have on their minds that they will want to do the same in 2008.

It is a big plus for Clinton, it shows she will be a competitive candidate in the general election. It will make it harder for other potential Democratic candidates to run against Hillary and say they have a better chance of beating the GOP.

by robliberal 2006-10-23 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

that is a good point.  It would be interesting to graph the generic congress polls along with the clinton v. republican polls.  I bet, based on what Chris has said above, that they would rise together.  And, if anything, Clinton actually dampens anti-Republican feelings.  That is why she is dangerous to us.

by Robert P 2006-10-23 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

so too will they sour on potential Republican presidential nominees -- media darling John McCain included

Good use of the qualifier!  We should try to always, always precede his name with "media pet" or the like.

by Rob in Vermont 2006-10-23 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

how about torture sponsor John McCain.

by Robert P 2006-10-23 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

Um, no.

The idea is to mock (to the point of somewhat emasculating) him, while at the same time mocking the press - daring them, as it were, to  prove that he is not their pet by actually toughening their coverage of him.

Neither of which would be accomplished by the torture line. (Nor does your line serve to differentiate him from the Democrats who voted the same way; their votes of course help to insulate him from such attacks.)

by Rob in Vermont 2006-10-23 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

I think it short-circuits his hero status by pointing out that he sold out future POWs by allowing torture.

I think the other idea is fine as well.

by Robert P 2006-10-25 03:21PM | 0 recs
It's still the same person

No matter how you try to change the name its still Hillary Clinton. The "Rodham" only sends a message to some voters that she's independent from Bill.

I have no problem voting for her in the primary or the general. A lot of McCain's support comes from moderate Dems and independets- people who usually vote for Dems. All she has to do is make inroads among these groups.

For example: Make a case that Dems should have a trifecta in 2008 to really get things done. Too much gridlock after a Dem. House and a Repub. Senate.

by bsavage 2006-10-23 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

I'm rolling my eyes because if this same poll would have had Obama, Warner (before he dropped out), Edwards, or Clark, people here would be saying that it's the most important and credible poll ever taken in the history of polls and that it was proof of their candidates' being inherently more electable in a general election in 2008 than Hillary.

by jgarcia 2006-10-23 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

This poll was very surprising to me.  Mostly because I always thought so much of the electorate irrationally hated Hillary and irrationally liked McCain.  Maybe the tides are turning.

by blueryan 2006-10-23 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

I agree this poll is indicative of the current political climate and nothing else.  

The only meaningful 2008 polls should be comparative horseraces (clinton v mccain, edwards v mccain, obama v mccain, etc) and primary polls in early primary states.

by KickinIt 2006-10-23 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

It is a sign of the Apocalypse (if you are a Republican)!

Its evidence of a realignment.  

by molly bloom 2006-10-23 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

Polling at this time means next to nothing.Its all about name recognition anyway.The use of the name "Rodham" with such a big difference only showns how meaningless polling on 2008 is right now.

by Litvak36 2006-10-23 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: What the 2008 Polling on Hillary Means

I an historic Democratic trifecta is now entirely possible: the first woman President, followed by the first black, then the first Jew. i.e. Clinton/Obama, Obama/Spitzer, Spitzer/?.

by Bob H 2006-10-24 03:05AM | 0 recs

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