Focus Group & Further Polls Show Clinton Could Have Difficulty Beating Trump

Trump Sanders Clinton

Bernie Sanders is projected to win the West Virginia primary, and additional polls out today showed that he would make the stronger candidate against Donald Trump. Public Policy Polling shows Clinton in a very tight race with Trump, with Clinton losing support to the likely Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and likely Green Party candidate Jill Stein:

PPP’s new national poll finds that Republicans have quickly unified around Donald Trump, making the Presidential race more competitive than it has previously been perceived to be.

Hillary Clinton leads Trump 42-38, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at  4% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2%. In a match up just between Clinton and Trump, her lead expands to 47-41. That’s because supporters of Johnson and Stein would prefer her over Trump 36-18. Although there’s been a lot of talk about third party candidates drawing support away from Trump, they’re actually taking a little bit more from Clinton at this point…

Bernie Sanders continues to do the best in general election match ups, leading Trump 47-37 with Johnson at 3% and Stein at 1% in the full field, and leading Trump 50-39 head to head. The difference between how Clinton and Sanders fare against Trump comes almost completely among young people. In the full field Clinton leads 46-24, but Sanders leads 64-18 with voters between 18 and 29. In one on ones with Trump, Clinton leads 49-27, but Sanders leads 70-14.

The undecideds in a Clinton-Trump match up right now support Sanders 41-8 in a match up with Trump, so the bad news for Clinton is that she has work to do to win over a certain segment of Sanders supporters in the general, but the good news is that they are at least somewhat Democratic leaning and she has the potential to increase her advantage over Trump by a couple points if she is eventually able to get them in her corner. Democrats lead a generic question about which party people would vote for President 49-41, so that may be somewhat of a forecast for where the race could be headed if/when Sanders supporters unify around Clinton for the general.

It remains to be seen how many Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton versus voting third party or staying home. While there has been talk of Donald Trump losing Republican voters to third parties, pundits often ignore the fact that Clinton’s views are further from the mainstream of her party than Trump’s views, making it likely that there will be Democratic voters who will not vote for Clinton under any circumstance. While the numbers backing third party candidates are small, this could be enough to cost Clinton the victory in a close election.

I find the views of both Stein and Johnson to be far preferable to the views of either major party candidate from the authoritarian right segment of the political spectrum. While unlikely, there has been more talk recently of an even better third party candidate–Bernie Sanders.

Sanders still hopes to be the Democratic candidate, having an increasingly strong argument that he is more likely than Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump. In addition to the Public Policy poll above, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton in a tight race in three key battleground states–Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Sanders does better than Clinton in all three states.

With a campaign between Clinton and Trump expected to be a battle to get votes to fear and hate the other major party candidate more, The Washington Post reports that Democratic focus groups are showing that swing voters are not believing the Democratic arguments against Trump. Bloomberg points out that, compared to Obama, Clinton has serious negatives in such a battle:

Clinton has been subjected to a quarter century of political and personal attacks, many of them vicious, more than a few outlandish. For every smear of President Barack Obama as a Kenyan anticolonial socialist or terrorist enabler, Clinton can probably cite two similarly inspired delusions — that she killed White House aide Vincent Foster or, for reasons no one ever seems able to explain, that she preferred to let a handful of Americans die in Benghazi rather than use her powers as secretary of State to protect them.

But the differences between Obama and Clinton are at least as telling as the similarities. More than half of Americans consistently have rated Obama “honest and trustworthy” during his presidency. Of nine Gallup measurements taken between 2008 and 2015, Obama fell below 50 percent only once, in 2014. In April 2008, the spring of his first campaign for president, 60 percent of Gallup respondents said Obama was honest and trustworthy.

By contrast, in a March 2016 Washington Post/ABC News poll, 37 percent of adults agreed that Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy, and 57 percent said they don’t think she is. Even Democrats aren’t sold. In Wisconsin, where Bernie Sanders defeated her on April 5, exit polls showed only 57 percent of Democratic voters rated her honest and trustworthy. Two weeks later in her home state of New York, which she won, only 60 percent of Democrats leaving the polls said she was honest and trustworthy.

Neither Sanders in 2016, nor Obama in 2008, aggressively attacked Clinton’s integrity. She finds herself in this hole as a result of conservative attacks on her and of doubts she raised by her own actions. History weighs on her.

Of course fact checkers have also demonstrated a large number of false statements coming from Trump. Trump beats Clinton in terms of number of falsehoods, but there is a major difference between the two. Trump tends to make up facts regarding policy matters. In contrast, Clinton’s lies tend to be to either cover up unethical actions and as part of a Rovian style smear campaign against political opponents. I suspect that Clinton’s type of dishonesty might be a more serious issue should the presidential campaign come down to character.

Trump Clinches Control of GOP While Sanders Continues To Fight Clinton For Democratic Nomination

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Who would have predicted that Donald Trump would clinch the Republican nomination while Hillary Clinton still has an opponent in the race after the Indiana primary, even if Bernie has a huge uphill battle to pull it out? Sanders’ only hope is that something major happens which erodes support for Clinton among the remaining primary voters and/or the superdelegates. While many Republicans continue to oppose Trump, it is hard to see any way to stop him now that both Cruz and Kassich have left the race.

While I do not want to give up all hope of an acceptable presidential candidate emerging from a major party, the pundits are concentrating on a Clinton versus Trump race, as horrible as those options are. Clinton certainly starts out with the advantage when you consider both the advantages for any Democrat in the electoral college, along with how Trump as alienated so many groups, including women and some minorities. On the other hand, the decline in Clinton’s support must raise the question of whether she can survive a general election campaign.

Some Republicans are even talking about voting for Clinton over Trump. Perhaps this will be like the PUMAs of 2008 with the majority ultimately voting for Obama despite initial threats to vote for McCain in protest over Clinton’s defeat. Trump is at a greater risk of a real defection this year. While he is wrong on many, many issues, Trump’s views are vastly different from the GOP mainstream. A neoconservative, DLC Democrat like Clinton is  not very far ideologically from the faction of Republicans which are not outright bat-shit crazy, and the old Goldwater Girl would actually be a sensible choice for many Republican voters. Neocons have already been talking about supporting Clinton for quite a while, and she has received the endorsement of Robert Kagan.

It certainly makes sense for Clinton to try to attract Republican votes, and such votes might make up votes Clinton will lose from those on the left who will not vote for her out of principle. A small percentage of Sanders supporters might even prefer Trump over Clinton. On paper Trump is preferable on foreign policy, showing far less interest than the ultra-hawkish Clinton in military interventionism and regime change, but I would also fear that he would blunder us into a war. Many Sanders supporters  prefer Trump over Clinton issues such as trade and legalization of drugs. Many other issues will make it unlikely for Sanders supporters to vote for Trump.

Sanders showed that his campaign is very much alive with his upset victory in Indiana. Many Clinton supporters are now calling on Sanders to leave the race, but they miss the point. Sanders has been facing an uphill battle from the start, but there is a need for a candidate to present an alternative viewpoint to those of Clinton and Trump. Hillary Clinton still has major negatives leaving a long shot chance of her campaign still being stopped, and even if she cannot be prevented from winning the nomination, voters in remaining primaries deserve an acceptable choice. This is also a campaign over principles and the future direction of the Democratic Party, regardless of whether Clinton wins the current nomination.

While Terrible Choices Lead Nomination Battles, Bernie Sanders Is Nation’s Most Popular Senator

Clinton Trump Baked Potato

I’ve already noted that a Clinton versus Trump race would place us on the darkest timeline. While I it might not be the most accurate polling outfit, Rasmussen reports that 24 percent of voters would stay home or vote third party if left to this choice. Many liberal Democrats will never support Clinton, seeing conservative DLC style Democrats as being little better than Republicans, and many Republicans will similarly not accept Trump. Republican Senate candidates are considering  distancing themselves from Trump, and Republicans are saying they would not be his running mate. While some conservatives are reaching the acceptance stage, George Will still writes, If Trump is nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House.

As bad as this choice might be, having Ted Cruz be the GOP nominee would probably be even worse. Although his views appear to be more in line with conventional Republican thought, he is so hated by many Republicans that they would still take Trump, whom some Republicans irrationally see as a Northeastern liberal. John Boehner sees Cruz as Lucifer in the flesh. Don’t think this means that Satanists want anything to do with Cruz:

Prominent Satanists want to be clear: Ted Cruz need not apply.

After former House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday called the current Republican presidential candidate “Lucifer in the flesh,” saying he found it difficult to work with him, staunch Satanists decried the comparison.

“Having a conservative Christian likened to Lucifer — one who opposes equal rights for same sex couples and promotes the ability to deny services to any with different values — we Satanists see as besmirching the positive, heroic aspects of that character as portrayed by Milton in his epic ‘Paradise Lost,'” Magus Peter Howard Gilmore, the high priest of The Church of Satan, said in a statement.

Lucien Greaves, a spokesman and co-founder for the Satanic Temple, told ABC News he thinks Cruz engages in “clearly deplorable behavior” and that Boehner’s comments were “thoughtless and ignorant.”

“Christians can’t just push Cruz off on Satanists,” Greaves said. “All he’s trying to say is that Ted Cruz is some type of embodiment of evil. I think that’s a rather destructive, backward mindset, because when you take clearly Christian individuals, clearly Christian activities, and things go sour, you pass them off as the influence of Satan.

“It really prevents you from thinking clearly,” he said.

I doubt Cruz will mind being rejected by Satanists, or by the KKK leader who endorsed Trump over Cruz.

Of course things could have been different if not for Democratic Party rules which rigged the system in Clinton’s favor. Bernie Sanders is the one candidate running who is well-liked, and would bring in independent and Republicans would happily vote for him as opposed to holding their nose to possibly vote for Clinton or Trump. In one of the latest examples of his support, Bernie Sanders was ranked the most popular Senator in America. Sanders has an 80 percent approval rating, while surprisingly Cruz is above water at 55 percent.

A Majority Agree With Sanders & Trump That The System Is Rigged

Elections rigged

Our two-party political system generally acts to limit consideration of political views to those in one corner of the authoritarian right political spectrum. In a typical election year we would not have discussion of subjects such as eliminating the influence of Wall Street,  ending the drug war, and opposition to American interventionism. Bernie Sanders, despite trying to limit his campaign to economic issues, did broaden the range of discussion this year. In addition, the campaigns of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump exposed how undemocratic our system is.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that over half of voters consider the system to be rigged:

More than half of American voters believe that the system U.S. political parties use to pick their candidates for the White House is “rigged” and more than two-thirds want to see the process changed, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The results echo complaints from Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders that the system is stacked against them in favor of candidates with close ties to their parties – a critique that has triggered a nationwide debate over whether the process is fair.

The United States is one of just a handful of countries that gives regular voters any say in who should make it onto the presidential ballot. But the state-by-state system of primaries, caucuses and conventions is complex. The contests historically were always party events, and while the popular vote has grown in influence since the mid-20th century, the parties still have considerable sway.

Trump and Sanders have encountered different obstacles to beat the establishment of their party. Trump has led in the delegate race, but there has been talk of using convention rules to keep  him from winning the nomination, especially if he fails to win on the first ballot.

Sanders has had to deal with party rules which have made it difficult for insurgent candidates to win since George McGovern won the nomination. Party leaders subsequently thought the party was best off with moderate candidates who do well in the south despite significant changes in the country since 1972. The use of super delegates, restrictions on independents voting in may states, and front loading of southern primaries make it harder for insurgent candidates to win. Plus the Democratic Party showed even more favoritism this year, including with the debate schedule, failing to release the popular vote in Iowa, as was done eight years ago, which Sanders very likely won, Harry Reid’s actions in Nevada, and changing rules on contributions from lobbyists to help Clinton.

Imagine how different things could have been if Sanders was declared the winner of the popular vote in Iowa, Harry Reid hadn’t intervened and Sanders won or came closer in Nevada, Sanders wasn’t faced with a string of early southern losses, and if the news media wasn’t showing Sanders to be far behind  from the start by counting the super delegates into the totals. Plus we have seen how much better Sanders does in states where independents can vote.

If we lived in a European parliamentary system, where it was possible for new parties to get established, then it might make sense to limit who can vote in a party primary to allow a party to preserve its ideological identity. However, the structure of our system is quite different. It would be very difficult for other parties to seriously challenge the two major parties. This creates a greater need for voters to be able to influence the candidates chosen by each party. With such input being artificially limited by the Democratic Party, we are seeing the party nominate a candidate who is popular with a majority of hard core partisans, but who is vastly out of step with those who lean towards voting Democratic. At the same time Clinton is probably clinching the nomination, her popularity is falling, she is struggling against Donald Trump and other Republicans in head to head polls, and she has lost in multiple recent states where independents were allowed to vote.

Clinton’s Lead Over Trump Down To Three Percent While Sanders Leads By Eleven

Trump Clinton

For the last few months it appeared that it might not matter how unpopular Hillary Clinton is in terms of a general election victory as at least she could beat Donald Trump. There are three major flaws in this viewpoint. The first is that even if Clinton could win the general election, having her as president is quite undesirable. The second is that it is far from certain that Trump will win the nomination considering how hard the Republicans are trying to prevent a first ballot victory, freeing delegates to support another candidate. Clinton has not been polling well against potential candidates other than Trump. Thirdly, Clinton’s lead over Trump is evaporating.

The GW Battleground poll shows Clinton only beating Trump by three points (within the margin of error), while Sanders beats him by 11. The poll also shows that 46 percent say they would consider voting for Clinton while 53 percent say they would not consider voting for her in the general election. In comparison, 51 percent say they would consider voting for Sanders and 47 percent say they would not. Trump’s numbers are also under water here, but the head-to-head battle shows that many who would not consider voting for him would do so if Clinton was his opponent

It is notable that Clinton’s support is already falling while in a primary battle in which Sanders is not even mentioning many of the scandals involving Clinton, which would probably hurt her further in the general election. Plus, with Clinton tying herself so closely to Obama during the primary battle, any bad news on the economy or internationally this fall could seriously hurt her.

Of course before looking ahead too much to the general election, we still need to concentrate on the primary battle. Public Policy Polling shows Sanders narrowing the gap with Clinton in tomorrow’s primaries, but he needs strong victories to reduce Clinton’s delegate lead.

Democratic Strategists Finally Realizing There Is Danger In Nominating A Candidate Who Is Disliked and Distrusted Like Clinton

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Some Democrats (such as Bill Curry) have realized for a long time that Hillary Clinton had serious problems as a candidate. While this should have been obvious since at least 2008, it appears that some are just catching on now, with The Hill running a story entitled Clinton’s dismal approval ratings prompt Dem fears.

Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings are historically low and increasingly a concern for her supporters.

Clinton is now viewed unfavorably by 55 percent of the electorate, according to the HuffPost Pollster average, which tracks findings from 42 different polling outfits. Only 40.2 percent of people view her favorably, according to that average.

An Associated Press/GfK poll released last week also found 55 percent giving Clinton an unfavorable rating. In the most recent Gallup poll, released late last month, her unfavorable number was 53 percent versus only 42 percent who saw her favorably.

Even Democrats acknowledge those findings are a problem.

“They’re pretty bad,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon, who connected the poor poll numbers to separate findings that show a broad number of Americans don’t trust Clinton.

“The No. 1 reason that her favorability is so bad is that you have large numbers of Americans who say they don’t trust her,” he said. “I could make it sound more complicated than that, but that’s really what it is. Voters see her as the ultimate politician, who will do or say anything to get elected.”

The historic comparisons are stark. At this point in the 2008 presidential cycle, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was seen favorably by 62 percent of voters and unfavorably by just 33 percent.  Even in February 2012, the closest comparable point in his re-election campaign, he had a net positive favorability rating in the Gallup poll of 2 percentage points, compared to Clinton’s current net rating of minus 11.

In March 2000, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) was viewed favorably by 63 percent of respondents in the Gallup poll and unfavorably by 32 percent.

The article points out that her low favorability ratings might not matter if running against a candidate as weak as Donald Trump, but there are still risks of low turnout among Democratic-leaning voters affecting the results as seen in 2014. It would be far safer to run with a candidate who receives more enthusiasm among the general population as opposed to primarily older, hardcore Democratic voters. The Hill went on to say:

But independent observers note that, while a general election is by its nature comparative, the capacity of each candidate to inspire supporters and thus drive turnout can also be crucial.

“Where it becomes a problem is the question of turnout and enthusiasm,” said Grant Reeher, a professor of political science at Syracuse University. Reeher added that, in the Democratic primary, Clinton’s rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), “is generating quite a bit of enthusiasm. In that sense, he is overperforming, even though he’s losing. She, I think, is underperforming in terms of turnout and enthusiasm.”

As The Hill noted, much of Clinton’s lack of support is based upon her dishonesty. I recently listed some of her major dishonest statements during the campaign here. In another recent post on Clinton’s dishonesty, I quoted  The New York Times, chastizing her for her dishonesty:

Even with a double-digit lead before the primary, she failed to avoid the type of negative tactics that could damage her in the long haul. A new Washington Post-ABC poll says that nationally, Mrs. Clinton’s margin over Bernie Sanders has shrunk: she polls at 49 percent compared with 42 percent for Mr. Sanders; in January her lead was more than double that. If she hopes to unify Democrats as the nominee, trying to tarnish Mr. Sanders as she did in Michigan this week is not the way to go.

Mrs. Clinton’s falsely parsing Mr. Sanders’s Senate vote on a 2008 recession-related bailout bill as abandoning the auto industry rescue hurt her credibility. As soon as she uttered it in Sunday’s debate, the Democratic strategist David Axelrod registered his dismay, tweeting that the Senate vote wasn’t explicitly a vote about saving the auto industry. Even as reporters challenged her claim, she doubled down in ads across the state. As The Washington Post noted, “it seems like she’s willing to take the gamble that fact-checkers may call her out for her tactic Sunday — but that voters won’t.”

…The Clinton machine should stop trying to tie Mr. Sanders to the National Rifle Association. Though Mr. Sanders has a D-minus from the N.R.A., in Michigan Mrs. Clinton’s operatives took to Twitter touting the N.R.A.’s tweets supporting Mr. Sanders’s statement that making manufacturers liable for gun violence would destroy gun manufacturing in America. On Tuesday, her campaign issued a news release saying that the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two African-American shooting victims, “are speaking out about Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on guns and African-Americans in Sunday’s Democratic primary debate.” Mr. Sanders, like Mrs. Clinton, has spent decades working against racial discrimination, poverty and gun violence. To suggest otherwise is wrong.

This did not keep Clinton from continuing to lie about Sanders’ gun record while campaigning in New York. Among her many lies is to attack Sanders with claims that guns from Vermont are a major source of gun violence in New York. This distortion is based upon playing games with the numbers based upon the population of Vermont. The Washington Post Fact Checker gave her Three Pinocchios for this lie. Factcheck.org and PolitiFact also criticized her for her distortion with selected statistics, especially as guns from Vermont represent less than two percent of guns recovered and traced in New York. Clinton looks further dishonest when attacking Sanders on guns should voters recall that in 2008 Clinton ran as a self-described pro-gun chruchgoer. This only reinforces the fact that Clinton will say anything go get elected.

As The Washington Post pointed out, Clinton gambles that people will not pay attention to the fact checkers. There certainly are a number of partisan Democrats who will overlook all her lies, but the majority of independent voters, along with many Democrats, realize that if Hillary Clinton’s lips are moving, she is probably lying. So, yes, if some Democratic strategists are now starting to become fearful that many voters will not turn out to vote Democratic if  Hillary Clinton is the nominee, they are right.

Elizabeth Warren Cheers Bernie Sanders On As He Ties Clinton In Latest Poll

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Elizabeth Warren is not willing to make an endorsement yet in the Democratic primary battle, but she is “cheering Bernie on” as she attacks Donald Trump. AP reports:

On Thursday, when asked if Bernie Sanders should drop out of the race, Warren praised the Democratic senator from Vermont.

Sanders has echoed Warren’s criticism of Wall Street and rising student load debt more than any other candidate.

‘‘He’s out there. He fights from the heart. This is who Bernie is,’’ Warren said. ‘‘He has put the right issues on the table both for the Democratic Party and for the country in general so I’m still cheering Bernie on.’’

Warren declined to say which candidate she voted for in the Massachusetts primary. She said she plans to make an endorsement, but not yet.

Perhaps the cheering is helping. Bloomberg has a new poll out showing Sanders tied with Clinton, and Sanders continues to be the stronger general election candidate in match-ups against Republicans:

Even after more than two dozen primaries and caucuses in which Clinton’s amassed a commanding lead in votes and in delegates needed to win the nomination, a Bloomberg Politics national poll found that Sanders is the first choice of 49 percent of those who have voted or plan to vote in this year’s Democratic contests, while the former secretary of state is preferred by 48 percent…

The survey also signaled some trouble for Clinton in holding on to Sanders supporters in November. In general-election match-ups, Sanders holds a 24-point edge over Donald Trump, a 12-point lead over Ted Cruz, and a 4-point advantage over John Kasich among likely general-election voters. Clinton, by contrast, trails Kasich by 4 percentage points. She would carry a sizable lead into a contest against Cruz, where she holds a 9-point advantage, and Trump, whom she beats by 18 points.

There are additional media reports which question if Sanders supporters will back Clinton. With Sanders campaigning out west, the Times of San Diego has run a story under the headline, San Diegans Rally for Bernie, Warn Hillary: Don’t Count on Us. It is also looking like topless women might be a new feature of Sanders rallies.

Sanders also made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He discussed the terrorist attack in Brussels. He once again distinguished himself from Clinton, Trump, and Cruz in stressing the importance of respecting the  Constitution. He had this to say about Donald Trump:

At the end of the day, we cannot allow the Trumps of the world to use these incidents to attack all of the Muslim people in the world. It is unfair. To imply that because somebody is a Muslim, they are a terrorist, that is an outrageous statement. Equally so when he talks about Mexicans coming over the border as rapists and criminals. That is not what this country is about, and we don’t need, in my view, a candidate for president hurling these types of insults.

Sanders also talked more about Donald Trump, legalization of marijuana, Flint, and campaign finance reform in the segment above. Regarding climate change, Sanders said:

If you’re going to run for president, you need many, many hundreds of millions of dollars. I’m on the Senate environmental committee. I’ve talked to scientists all over the world. Climate change is real; it’s caused by human activity. And yet you don’t have one Republican candidate prepared to say that. The reason for it is that the day they say it, their campaign funding is cut by the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry.

What’s Wrong With Hillary? One Big Problem Is All Her Lying

Bush and Hillary Clinton

Jeff Greenfield has an article at Politico which asks the question, What’s Wrong With Hillary? It is subtitled, The GOP is fretting about Trump, but the Democrats’ likely standard-bearer could do just as much damage to her own party.

Problems include her conservative viewpoints on many issues, her changing of positions based upon political expediency, and her lying.

Greenfield discussed how Clinton is not trusted by the voters, including many Democrats. There is also a unique pattern to her shifts in position:

A look at Clinton’s political career provides a tougher explanation. Those younger voters who doubt her trustworthiness likely have no memory, or even casual acquaintance with, a 25-year history that includes cattle-futures trading, law firm billing records, muddled sniper fire recollections and the countless other charges of widely varying credibility aimed at her. They may even have suspended judgment about whether her e-mail use was a matter of bad judgment or worse.

But when you look at the positions she has taken on some of the most significant public policy questions of her time, you cannot escape noticing one key pattern: She has always embraced the politically popular stand—indeed, she has gone out of her way to reinforce that stand—and she has shifted her ground in a way that perfectly correlates with the shifts in public opinion.

For instance: Many Democrats, including all of the major 2008 presidential candidates save for Barack Obama, stood with President George W. Bush and voted for the authorization to use force against Saddam Hussein. What was different about Clinton, however, was that in her October 2002 speech she said this about Saddam: “He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001.”

This assertion, in the words of reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Jeff Gerth, was unsupported by the conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate “and other secret intelligence reports that were available to senators before the vote.” It made for a more muscular talking point; it just happened not to be true.

Or consider her “evolution” on gay marriage. Back in June 2014, Clinton got very testy with “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross, who kept pushing Clinton to explain why this shift was not a matter of political calculation. She repeatedly asked the former secretary of state whether her opinion on gay marriage had changed, or whether the political dynamics had shifted enough that she could express her opinion.

“I’m just trying to clarify so I can understand …” Gross began.

“No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify,” Clinton snapped back. “I think you’re trying to say I used to be opposed and now I’m in favor and I did it for political reasons, and that’s just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record, I have a great commitment to this issue.”

Well, here’s what Clinton said on the Senate floor, speaking in opposition to a constitutional amendment that would have forbidden gay marriage, while making very clear where she stood on the issue.

“I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman. … So I take umbrage at anyone who might suggest that those of us who worry about amending the Constitution are less committed to the sanctity of marriage, or to the fundamental bedrock principle that it exists between a man and a woman, going back into the mists of history as one of the founding, foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization.”

Again, plenty of Democrats were on record as opposing gay marriage in 2004—the year that voters in 11 states voted to ban the practice by significant margins. What’s striking about Clinton’s speech is the intensity of the language, the assertion that it is a “bedrock principle.” You might think that a conviction so strongly held would not be subject to “evolution,” much less shifting political winds. Not so, apparently—any more than a trade deal can be the “gold standard” one year and an unacceptable threat to American workers the next; or that a generation of potential “super predators” requires draconian crime laws one decade, while the next demands an end to such laws.

Clinton’s dishonesty on matters of public policy, especially questions of war or peace, is most troubling, but as we are in the midst of a political campaign, her dishonest attacks on Sanders are the ones which currently stand out. James Hohmann described many of her lies during the debate in Miami, when she tried to make it sound like Sanders simultaneously was aligned with both Castro and the Koch Brothers. He summed up her strategy:

There is a tactic in high school debate called “the spread.” It’s when you throw out so many arguments that your opponent cannot possibly respond to all of them, especially with the limited time they have to speak. It’s especially effective when your arguments are just off the wall enough that the other side has not prepared responses ahead of time. Then, when you get a chance to respond to their refutation, you zero in on whatever they “dropped” and hammer them for it, spinning the judges on why it is crucially important to the broader topic being debated. It felt like Clinton was trying to do just that last night. Alas, this is not a high school debate tournament and the winner is not determined by points or on what competitive debaters refer to as “the flow.”

Clinton was also exposed for what appears to be violating debate rules, as Donald Trump has also done, by meeting with staff during a break in the debates.

It doesn’t even appear to be working for Clinton to lie at the debates. Her false claims about Sanders’ record on the auto bailout backfired, possibly helping him win Michigan. The New York Times, which has endorsed Clinton for the Democratic nomination, chastised her for her dishonesty:

Even with a double-digit lead before the primary, she failed to avoid the type of negative tactics that could damage her in the long haul. A new Washington Post-ABC poll says that nationally, Mrs. Clinton’s margin over Bernie Sanders has shrunk: she polls at 49 percent compared with 42 percent for Mr. Sanders; in January her lead was more than double that. If she hopes to unify Democrats as the nominee, trying to tarnish Mr. Sanders as she did in Michigan this week is not the way to go.

Mrs. Clinton’s falsely parsing Mr. Sanders’s Senate vote on a 2008 recession-related bailout bill as abandoning the auto industry rescue hurt her credibility. As soon as she uttered it in Sunday’s debate, the Democratic strategist David Axelrod registered his dismay, tweeting that the Senate vote wasn’t explicitly a vote about saving the auto industry. Even as reporters challenged her claim, she doubled down in ads across the state. As The Washington Post noted, “it seems like she’s willing to take the gamble that fact-checkers may call her out for her tactic Sunday — but that voters won’t.”

…The Clinton machine should stop trying to tie Mr. Sanders to the National Rifle Association. Though Mr. Sanders has a D-minus from the N.R.A., in Michigan Mrs. Clinton’s operatives took to Twitter touting the N.R.A.’s tweets supporting Mr. Sanders’s statement that making manufacturers liable for gun violence would destroy gun manufacturing in America. On Tuesday, her campaign issued a news release saying that the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two African-American shooting victims, “are speaking out about Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on guns and African-Americans in Sunday’s Democratic primary debate.” Mr. Sanders, like Mrs. Clinton, has spent decades working against racial discrimination, poverty and gun violence. To suggest otherwise is wrong.

The question is whether both the negative impression of Clinton, and the support Sanders has received, will carry through to this week’s primaries. The latest polls show that Sanders can pull additional upsets like in Michigan. If Clinton winds up with a string of losses outside of the red states, even the super delegates from the party establishment might start to question the wisdom of nominating her.

After Super Tuesday We Might Be In The Darkest Timeline: Clinton v. Trump

Trump Clinton Celebrity Death Match

Fans of Community are familiar with the concept of the darkest timeline. While nobody has clinched the nomination and there is still time for unexpected events to change the trajectory after Super Tuesday, the most likely outcome of the nomination battles is that we will have a habitual liar and warmonger running for president, and the other candidate will be Donald Trump. The two worst candidates imaginable. We might now be living in the darkest timeline.

Again, nothing is final. Super Tuesday was set up to benefit moderate Democratic candidates who would appeal to the southern states, with party rules set up to hinder liberal nominees even before the games played this election year. Clinton did very well in states she probably has no chance to win in a general election, but it was also disappointing to see both Clinton and Trump win in Massachusetts.

Clinton has more than enough baggage to normally derail any politician but, like Donald Trump, her supporters don’t seem to care what she has done. There is also a remote chance that the Republican race will turn into a two way battle with the survivor being to win enough winner take all states to overcome Trump’s advantage.

One hopeful sign is the amount of donations Sanders has been receiving, receiving over forty million dollars in February alone. Generally, when a candidate loses primaries, they are forced from the race as their money dries up. Sanders has the resources and will be continuing to take on Clinton.

If it is a general election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, one question will be how the nomination process led to the two candidates with the highest negatives for a general election winning each party’s nomination. While the outcome is analogous, the process was completely different. Clinton has benefited from being the establishment candidate in a battle rigged in her favor, without regard to the consequences. Trump has defied the Republican leadership, which has so far been  powerless to get in the way of voters rejecting the establishment.

In other words, the Democratic race has been totally undemocratic, while the Republicans have had a much fairer process. As David Atkins wrote about the Democratic process at Washington Monthly, “The Democratic Party should be true to its name and trust in democracy.”Republican voters have been right in rejecting the establishment, but unfortunately the wrong person has benefited from this.

An election between Clinton versus Trump will very likely break modern records for dishonesty and smears. With each candidate being so disliked on a national level, each will probably try to win by making voters hate the other even more.

We might see a breakdown in the red/blue state divide which has dominated recent elections. It is not unimaginable to see Donald Trump taking New York and the blue portions of the midwest in a battle with Clinton, who already is having problems in the traditional battleground states. On the other hand, Democrats might be lucky if Trump is the nominee as Clinton would have a much harder time beating Cruz or Rubio. The latest CNN poll , along with multiple other recent polls, agrees with this, showing both Sanders and Clinton beating Trump, with Sanders winning by a larger margin, but only Sanders being able to beat Rubio and Cruz.

The real reason that this is the darkest timeline is not the general election, but who we will have to live with as president for at least four years. A Clinton victory means a return to the neoconservative foreign policy view which has resulted in disaster. She will keep us on a path of perpetual warfare and strengthening of the surveillance state. She even received a major neocon endorsement last week. While Donald Trump is less hawkish on paper, I could still see him as being at considerable risk of blundering us into more wars. Both show little regard for First Amendments rights.

We would have a Democratic nominee who has proposed legislation making it a crime to burn flags in protest and a Republican nominee who has proposed limiting entry to the country based upon their religion. Neither is tolerable. I imagine that in the case of Trump we are dealing with what might be campaign hyperbole, versus an actual record on Clinton’s part of proposing restrictions on civil liberties and pushing for greater military intervention, but it is risky to trust that Trump will be more rational if in office. Just like it is risky to believe it when Clinton takes more progressive positions, on limited and selective issues. At least Trump has exposed the problems of big money in politics–not that I would count on him really reforming a system he has benefited from. It is no wonder that I am seeing so much talk about voting for the Green Party recently.

Sanders Continues To Gain On Clinton In Polls; Does Better Than Clinton Against GOP

Sanders Clinton

The Hill summarizes the problems faced by the Clinton campaign:

Tightening race rattles Clinton World’s nerves

Allies of Hillary Clinton are growing nervous as the Democratic presidential race with Bernie Sanders tightens ahead of contests in Nevada and South Carolina.

A new CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday found Clinton with a 1-point lead in Nevada, which hosts its caucuses on Saturday. That’s a huge change from the 23-point lead Clinton enjoyed in a late December poll by Gravis.

In South Carolina, which hosts its primary election on Feb. 27, Clinton has a more comfortable 18-point lead according to a CNN/ORC poll. But even that edge has narrowed since Sanders crushed her in New Hampshire’s primary last week.

As recently as mid-January, a poll from NBC, The Wall Street Journal and Marist found Clinton with a 33-point lead in South Carolina.

“I don’t get it. I don’t think anyone expected this race to look like this,” said one former Clinton aide who maintains ties with the campaign. “A big loss in New Hampshire, basically a tie going into Nevada. You have to ask yourself, ‘What’s next?’ ”

Team Clinton maintains confidence that its lead in South Carolina will hold, but the potential loss in Nevada has put people on edge about a “domino effect” in which states could fall one by one to Sanders as he gains momentum…

Quinnipiac, NBC, and Fox all have bad news for Clinton.

Quinnipiac, which has also shown the national race to be near tied in their last two polls, shows Sanders doing  better than Clinton in head to head matchups against Republicans:

  • Sanders over Trump 48 – 42 percent;
  • Sanders tops Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas 49 – 39 percent;
  • Sanders leads Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida 47 – 41 percent;
  • Sanders beats Bush 49 – 39 percent;
  • Sanders edges Kasich 45 – 41 percent.
  • Clinton with 44 percent to Trump’s 43 percent;
  • Cruz with 46 percent to Clinton’s 43 percent;
  • Rubio topping Clinton 48 – 41 percent;
  • Bush at 44 percent to Clinton’s 43 percent;
  • Kasich beating Clinton 47 – 39 percent.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll still has Clinton leading in the national polls but her lead has fallen from twenty-five points a month ago to eleven points in the latest poll.

While possibly an outlier, Fox now has Sanders leading Clinton nationally:

Bernie Sanders now tops Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination.

The latest Fox News national poll finds 47 percent of Democratic primary voters now back the Vermont senator, up from 37 percent in January.  Clinton gets 44 percent, down from 49 percent a month ago.

CLICK TO READ THE POLL RESULTS

This is the first time Sanders has been ahead of Clinton, who not long ago was regularly described as the “presumptive Democratic nominee.”

Clinton led Sanders in the Fox poll by as many as 46 points last summer, and had a 22-point lead as recently as two months ago.

Sanders also does better against Trump than Clinton does:

Sanders outperforms Clinton in a hypothetical matchup against Republican front-runner Donald Trump.  He leads Trump by 53-38 percent.  Clinton has a narrower five-point edge over Trump:  47-42 percent.

It appears that Clinton’s smear campaign is not working, and might be backfiring against her.