New Clue That Biden Might Run–And That DNC Is Keeping Lessig Out

Biden Run CNN

Ryan Lizza wrote that A New Clue Suggests Biden May Run:

Joe Biden has taken another step toward entering the Presidential race.

Representatives of the Vice-President held a meeting this week with Democratic National Committee staffers. They briefed Biden’s aides on arcane but crucial rules that the Vice-President would need to understand if he decides to run, according to a D.N.C. official.

It was the most significant sign the source had seen to indicate Biden’s intentions. “I think it means he’s running,” the source said.

The D.N.C. has held similar meetings for representatives from the five declared Democratic candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley, and Lincoln Chafee. The D.N.C. offered the meeting to Biden earlier this year, and the party committee was scheduled to brief his aides back in June, but that meeting was cancelled.

I’m not so sure that this is “the most significant sign” to indicate that Biden is thinking of running. Is this really more significant than meetings with fund raisers or looking into starting the framework of a campaign? Biden is hardly new to politics, and I also wonder whether this is isn’t actually information which his staffers hadn’t already researched. Maybe this is a more significant signs than all the other signs that he is strongly considering running, or maybe it is one more example of how Biden is doing research to prepare for a decision as to whether to run.

What I find interesting here is the list. Notice one name is missing. Maybe it was an oversight by the writer, but this suggests that Lawrence Lessig was left out. That would be consistent with Lessig’s complaints that the DNC is trying to keep pollsters from including him, which would result in excluding him from the debates.

***

In related news, I recently posted a copy of the ad prepared by the Draft Biden group with plans to purchase spots for it nationally. The ad makes an emotional appeal, using Biden’s family. Biden has requested that the ad not be used:

“The vice president appreciates that they are trying to help,” the person close to the vice president said. “But he has seen the ad and thinks the ad treads on sacred ground and hopes they don’t run it.”

The vice president’s office declined to comment.

In a statement, the super PAC said it would “honor his wishes” and pull the ad.

Republicans In Political Chaos, Clinton “Covering Up Some Shaddy Shit”, And Sanders’ Unconventional Debate Preparation

McCarthy Drop Out

Both political parties are facing a fight against the party establishment in their presidential campaigns, with the Republican battle extending to Congress. Unfortunately the insurgents on the Republican side are the extremists who, while right in finding fault in the establishment, seek to paralyze the political system rather than improve it. Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race for Speaker, and at this point it is difficult to predict how the Republicans will get out of this mess. It is even possible that Boehner will be around a lot longer than he intended.

It is likley that anybody in the Republican leadership would fail to receive enough Tea Party support to become Speaker, but McCarthy sure did not do himself any favors with his comment on the Benghazi hearings in late September. His statement will probably be quoted quite frequently by Hillary Clinton, who has a strong case in criticizing that witch hunt.

Unfortunately for Clinton, she is also guilty herself of quite a bit of unethical and foolish behavior, along with violation of multiple government regulations. There is another quote mentioned in The Hill which Clinton will hope does not get repeated very often (emphasis mine):

Perhaps Clinton has learned the value of distraction from Donald Trump; fresh off her comedy skit on “Saturday Night Live” she mailed copies of her book “Hard Choices” to the entire GOP presidential field with a cheeky note about them starting a book club together. She also spoofed McCarthy’s blunder in an online video and her surrogates continue to rage about it on Twitter.

But a Senate investigation has now revealed a second company that backed up Clinton’s emails, and it has turned over its data to the FBI investigation into whether she mishandled classified information. Documents also show the first company is now concerned it may have deleted emails following the initial request the State Department made for her work records. One employee of Platte River Networks, which turned the server over to the FBI in August, wrote to another of concern that “this whole thing is really covering up some shaddy [sic] shit,” according to documents.

Next week’s debate has the potential to further shake up the Democratic race. The trend so far has been that the more people see of Bernie Sanders, the more they like him, and the opposite for Hillary Clinton. Politico reports on Sanders’ unorthodox debate preparation:

Hillary Clinton has had aides lined up to run her debate prep for months. A Washington super lawyer is mimicking Bernie Sanders, and her top policy staffer is acting as Martin O’Malley.

Sanders started studying for next Tuesday’s event not even a full week ago. And that’s because his two top aides sat him down in Burlington on Friday and asked whether he had a plan.

Sanders has briefing books, a couple of meetings with policy experts and an abiding aversion to the idea of acting out a debate before it happens. He knows the stakes are high, his staff says. But the candidate, whose New Hampshire polling and fundraising prowess have put a scare into Clinton, is uninterested in going through the motions of typical debate practice.

The Vermont senator’s debate preparations, in other words, don’t look a ton like debate preparations.

While CNN is billing the event as a showdown, Sanders’ team sees the first Democratic debate as a chance to introduce a fairly niche candidate to a national audience. So his team intends to let him do what he’s been doing. Far from preparing lines to deploy against Clinton — let alone O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee or Jim Webb — Sanders plans to dish policy details, learned through a handful of briefings with experts brought in by his campaign.

He won’t attack Clinton personally but will instead identify where their positions differ — on foreign policy, for example — and try to leave an impression with viewers of the substantive differences between the party’s two front-runners.

“You’re looking at a candidate who has run in many, many elections who has never run a negative political ad in my life — and hopes never to have to run one. You’re looking at a candidate who does not go about attacking personally, I just don’t do that,” Sanders said Wednesday.

He’s working to be prepared to stand his ground if Clinton — or O’Malley — comes after him. His team contends, though, that those defenses won’t come through as pre-written one-liners.

“The one thing Bernie’s not going to do is be a politician that delivers canned soundbites. That would be a disaster,” said Tad Devine, the campaign’s chief strategist, who met with Sanders and campaign manager Jeff Weaver last week to kick off the debate planning. “And one of the reasons to not do formal debate prep sessions is it gets rehearsed.”

This is quite a contrast from how Joe Biden has decided that, even should he announce that he is running, he does not plan to participate in the debate because of not having time to prepare his “canned soundbites.”

Unlike Clinton, Sanders has been saying the same things throughout his career, and perhaps this has served as sufficient debate preparation. I just hope that he is not making a mistake. I think back to occasions such as Obama’s first debate in 2008 where I suspect he felt over-confident as he knew the material, which is not the same as being prepared for a televised debate. Plus sound bites cannot be ignored, as these are what appear in subsequent newscasts where impressions of the debate by the public are often different from those who watch the entire debate. Regardless of how Sanders prepares, what I hope does come out of the debate is how he has been right, and Clinton wrong, on so many of the key issues over the past decades.

Lawrence Lessig Protests Acts By DNC To Keep Him Out Of Democratic Debate

Lawrence Lessig

As I noted earlier in the week, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee have all met the criteria to make the Democratic debate (an average of 1% in three polls, recognized by CNN, released between Aug. 1 and Oct. 10). Joe Biden will be allowed into the debate if he declares his candidacy by the day of the debate–but he reportedly is now putting off his decision even longer.  Lawrence Lessig so far has not qualified, primarily because of not being included in most polls. Lessig has explained how Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee are keeping him out of the debates:

I’m running for President. Or trying. After raising $1 million in less than 30 days, I entered the primary on September 9 as the Democrat’s only non-politician. My platform is simple: end the corrupting influence of money in Washington, so we might finally have, as Buddy Roemer would put it, a Congress free to lead.

But that message is being stifled with the tacit approval of the Democratic Party leadership, who are deploying the oldest method available for marginalizing campaigns they don’t like: keeping me out of the Democratic presidential debates.

Here’s how you make the debates: After one declares, a candidate is formally welcomed into the race by the Democratic National Committee. Polling firms, taking a cue from the DNC, include that candidate on their questionnaires. Candidates that poll at 1 percent nationally in at least three separate polls earn an invitation. Simple enough.

That’s how the process typically works for other candidacies—but not for mine. The DNC still has not formally welcomed me into the race—despite my raising money at a faster pace than more than half the pack, and being in the race nearly a full month. Polls, in turn, have taken the hint, only including me sporadically on questionnaires: of the last 10 major polls, only three mentioned my candidacy. One poll recently put me at 1 percent (for comparison, candidates O’Malley, Webb and Chafee, who will each get a podium at the debates, are all currently polling at 0.7 percent or less, according to Real Clear Politcs). Were I actually included on every poll, I would easily make the debates.

The Democratic Party could fix this by welcoming me into the race. Yet when I tried to talk about this with the chair of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she scheduled a call, but then cancelled it. So far she hasn’t had the time to schedule another. I’ve had similar experiences at the state level, where the same game is played: The chair of the New Hampshire Democrats invited me to speak at their convention. I was given 5 minutes. Hillary Clinton took an hour.

These signals from the party affect the media, too. While news shows have been busy limning the depths of Donald Trump’s brain, there hasn’t been time to consider a Democratic candidate saying something that no other Democrat is saying—especially if the party itself doesn’t consider the candidate a real candidate. And while the Atlantic listed me as a candidate on their website from day one, it took some lobbying to get the New York Times to do the same. Neither fish nor fowl, and not insanely rich, no one quite knows where to place a candidate like me…

Sanders and O’Malley have been protesting the plans for only four debates, while Clinton only wanted four. Most of the announced dates for the debates are on weekends when there are expected to be fewer viewers.

CNN Allowing Biden To Wait Until Day Of Debate To Declare Candidacy

Clinton Biden Sanders

CNN has announced more specific debate criteria, and it comes out to be extremely Biden-friendly. The requirement is for “an average of 1% in three polls, recognized by CNN, released between Aug. 1 and Oct. 10.” Under this criteria, Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley, Webb, and Chafee already qualify.

This leaves two other potential candidates. Joe Biden has been investigating the possibility of running but has not made a decision. In order for Biden to qualify for the first debate under CNN’s rules, he merely has to “file the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission or declare his intention to do so to appear on stage at the Wynn, according to the criteria.”

Theoretically it means he could drive to the studio the night of the debate and say he plans to file the paperwork. More realistically, even if he keeps his decision quiet, I would think he would want to start practicing prior to the debate. I would also expect  Biden to announce his campaign at least slightly prior to the debate in order to dominate a media cycle with the news of his candidacy. On the other hand, I am not at all surprised that there was no announcement the past week considering the major events occurring, including the visit of Pope Francis, the Chinese State Dinner, and the events at the United Nations.

The Washington Post notes the impact Biden would have on the race:

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday showed Clinton leading rival Bernie Sanders 53 percent to 38 percent, a significantly smaller lead than the 34-point advantage she had in July.

But Biden’s entry to the race could present a significant blow to Clinton’s dominance over the field by siphoning off many of her supporters. When Biden was listed as a potential candidate in the poll, her support against Sanders dropped to 42 percent compared to his 35 percent, while Biden took 17 percent.

I  wonder how much Biden’s support will change just by announcing his candidacy. If he doesn’t run, I wonder how many of his supporters could ultimately be picked up by Sanders.

The remaining possibility is Lawrence Lessig, a frequent critic of Clinton’s ethics. Since my last post on him in August, he has formally announced his candidacy. He did reach one percent from Public Policy Polling, but CNN is not including this poll in their calculation. On his blog, Lessig says that other polls are not including him. A supporter has created a petition at MoveOn, but I don’t see how this will affect the debates. So, if a pollster happens to ask your opinion between now and October 10, consider claiming support for Lessig to help him get into the debate.

Related: Sanders & O’Malley Object To Democratic Debate Schedule But Clinton Reportedly Only Wanted Four Debates

Sanders Leads Clinton By 16 Points In New Hampshire & Narrows Gap to 10 Points Nationally

Sanders Clinton

We could be seeing the biggest political upset in politics since Hillary Clinton was upset eight years ago. Bernie Sanders now has a sixteen point lead over Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN/WMUR poll in New Hampshire:

Hillary Clinton trails Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination for president in New Hampshire, even if Vice President Joe Biden decides not to make a run for the White House, according to a new CNN/WMUR poll.

Sanders has the backing of nearly half of those who say they plan to vote in the first-in-the-nation Democratic primary next year — 46% support him — while just 30% say they back Clinton. Another 14% say they would support Biden, 2% former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, 1% former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, and less than half of 1% back former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee or Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig.

Clinton trails Sanders across most demographic groups, with broad gender and ideology divides bolstering Sanders’ run. He holds 56% of male Democratic voters compared with just 20% who back her, while the two are much closer among women, 39% back Sanders, 37% Clinton. Likewise, Sanders holds a 56% to 30% lead among liberals, versus a 37% to 31% race among moderates.

Sanders also continues to gain on Clinton in some of the national polls. The Ispos/Reuters Poll shows Sanders down by only ten points:

Hillary Clinton continues to lead among Democrats nationwide, with 40% of Dems. Sanders (30%) has gained ground on the front runner.

National polls are virtually meaningless at this point, but it is worth pointing out how close Sanders is in this poll considering how much noise Clinton supporters make when a poll shows any increase in her support nationally, no matter how briefly this lasts or what the other polls are showing.  Sanders has plenty of opportunity to close the gap nationally should he beat Clinton in New Hampshire and/or Iowa. The debates will also provide a major opportunity for Sanders, even with the limited debate schedule.

Sanders Leads Clinton In Another New Hampshire Poll, Drawing Support From Both Moderates And Liberals

Public Policy Polling Sanders New Hampshire

Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in a second poll in New Hampshire. Public Policy Polling reports:

There’s been a big shift on the Democratic side since April as well. Bernie Sanders now leads the field in the state with 42% to 35% for Hillary Clinton, 6% for Jim Webb, 4% for Martin O’Malley, 2% for Lincoln Chafee, and 1% for Lawrence Lessig.

The main story in New Hampshire is how universally popular Sanders has become with the Democratic electorate. 78% see him favorably to only 12% with a negative opinion- that makes him easily the most popular candidate on either side with their party’s voters. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton’s favorability numbers have taken a little bit of a hit- she was at 78/10 with Democratic primary voters in April, but now she’s at a 63/25 spread.

The ideological divide is actually not that stark on the Democratic side. Sanders is ahead with ‘somewhat liberal’ voters (45/32), ‘very liberal’ ones (46/37), and moderates (40/36) alike. And although there is certainly a gender gap Sanders is ahead with both men (44/30) and women (41/38). But the real big divide we see is along generational lines- Clinton is ahead 51/34 with seniors, but Sanders has a 45/29 advantage with everyone under the age of 65.

New Hampshire is somewhat a world unto itself in the Democratic race. We’re still finding Clinton well ahead everywhere else. But it’s clear there’s a real race now in the Granite State.

It is notable that Sanders’ support comes from somewhat liberal, very liberal, and moderate voters responding to this poll. As other evidence has shown, Sanders’ support is broad based, and not a left-wing phenomenon. Sanders’ views are far more mainstream than many Clinton supporters would like to acknowledge. This, along with the generational divide, is also consistent with what I have argued previously that Sanders represents the future for the Democratic Party.

Sanders also had a clear lead over Clinton in a Boston Herald poll earlier in the month after previously moving into a statistical tie in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll early in August.

Winning in New Hampshire, especially if Sanders also does well in Iowa, should give him a boost in polls in subsequent states, but it will still be a tough challenge to beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. After George McGovern won the nomination in 1972, party rules were written to favor the “establishment” candidate over an “insurgent” candidate. It would be necessary for Sanders to win well over half the delegates awarded in primary and caucus states due to Clinton’s current support from the super-delegates. Barack Obama did show that Clinton could be beat, but his campaign was boosted by support from party insiders such as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

The scandals surrounding Clinton could alter this usual dynamic. It is also hoped that the debates will further help Sanders in the national polls against Clinton, but the DNC is protecting Clinton by prohibiting candidates from participating in any debates other than the six sanctioned by the party. In the 2007/8 debates Obama did soundly defeat Clinton on the issues, in my opinion, but there are also many conservative Democratic voters who might accept Clinton’s views.

The highly discussed prospect of Joe Biden entering the race could change the calculations considerably. This could lead to an additional voice criticizing Clinton from the left (even if as not as far left as Sanders) and, more importantly, would lead to a split in the establishment vote and super-delegates, improving the chances for Sanders to win.

In another poll, of questionable reliability considering the conservative source, Rasmussen reports that a plurality of Americans (46 percent to 44 percent) believe Clinton should suspend her campaign due to the email scandal. This includes 24 percent of Democratic voters who believe Clinton should suspend her campaign. Once again, this is Rasmussen, so I will only consider these results as meaningful if repeated by a more reliable pollster.

Sanders And Trump Both Gain On Hillary As Clinton Tries To Lie Her Way Out Of A Worsening Scandal

Sanders Clinton

Those who either thought that Hillary Clinton could easily beat him, or that there was no chance of Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination, received some information to counter such beliefs in the latest CNN poll. Despite all the reports that Trump’s campaign would go on the decline, such as after his attacks on John McCain’s military service or after the Republican debate, Trump continues to lead the GOP field. Even worse, he is now only six points behind Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN poll. While I am not predicting that Trump will win either the nomination or general election, neither of these possibilities looks impossible anymore.

Bernie Sanders is also closing the gap with Hillary Clinton in the same poll:

Hillary Clinton’s advantage against Bernie Sanders among Democratic voters continues to evaporate, according to the latest CNN/ORC national poll released Wednesday morning. And in a general election matchup with Donald Trump, who has led GOP polling for the last month, Clinton leads by just six points.

Among 358 registered voters who identified as Democrats or leaning Democratic, 47 percent said they would vote for Clinton in a primary, while Sanders picked up 29 percent. Vice President Joe Biden, who has not made his intentions known about a run, grabbed 14 percent. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received 2 percent, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb earned 1 percent.

In the same poll last month, Clinton picked up 56 percent to Sanders’ 19 percent, another indication that the “drip, drip, drip” of the email scandal is taking a toll on her presidential campaign.

Sanders is generating considerable enthusiasm and support independent of Clinton’s failings, but Clinton is certainly helping in the crumbling of her campaign. There are recent headlines such as Clinton pulls plug on testy presser over server questionsHillary Clinton gets testy when pressed on email, Allies fault Hillary Clinton’s response on emails and Some Hillary Clinton supporters in South Carolina are starting to get nervous.

Hardly the type of headline Democrats should want to see throughout the campaign, and  First Read warns that this will continue:

For Hillary, that email story isn’t going away

After watching Hillary Clinton’s testy news conference yesterday over her emails and server, here is this stark reality for the Clinton campaign: This issue isn’t going away — at least for a couple of more months (when Clinton testifies before the Benghazi committee in October). And there’s just no other way to look at this story but to conclude she has done it to herself. She tried to conflate the private server issue a bit, claiming that we’d have the same questions for her regarding classified information if her emails were on a state.gov server or her own. But that ignores a few facts, including: the existence of the private server only came to light via congressional investigation and the fact that she doesn’t yet have a good explanation of why she decided to have a private server in the first place. Convenience is a tough one for the public to buy, given that the private server conveniently made FOIA requests and Congressional oversight of her email nearly impossible.

One reason this will not go away is that reputable fact checkers have demonstrated that virtually everything Clinton has said in her public statements about the email scandals have been false. This includes the false claim she repeated this week her use of the private server was permitted under the rules in effect in 2009. USA Today further debunked the more recent claims from Clinton:

Hillary Clinton gave an odd — and factually inaccurate — account of how the controversy over her email habits as secretary of State mushroomed into a public spectacle.

Clinton chalked it up to her pride in her work at the State Department and her desire for government transparency. “[I]f I had not asked for my emails all to be made public, none of this would have been in the public arena,” she said during an Aug. 17 radio interview in Iowa.

That’s pure spin…

See the full article, as well as to those linked to above, for the full details. There have been far too many lies from Clinton to address them again here, but we can be certain we will be hearing about them constantly during the general election campaign should the Democratic Party be so foolish as to give Clinton the nomination.

Update: Federal Judge Says Clinton Failed To follow Government Policy In Using Private Server

What The Democrats Were Doing While The Republicans Were Making Fools Of Themselves

Sanders Tweeting Debate

I’ve already discussed what the Republicans were doing Thursday night at the debate. We also know that since then the Republicans have been fighting about Donald Trump’s misogynistic comments about Megyn Kelly, with Trump being disinvited from the RedState Gathering. While the Republicans were debating, Bernie Sanders was tweeting in response. Sanders even had the most retweeted comment of the debate:

In contrast, Hillary Clinton was at a fund raiser, leaving staffers to tweet for her. The most talked about item from the evening was not the issues, as when Sanders tweeted, but Kim Kardasian getting this selfie with Hillary Clinton:

Kim_Kardashian_Hillary_Clinton selfie

If we are to match celebrity endorsements, I’m more impressed by the endorsement for Bernie from Sarah Silverman. She has previously tweeted, “I’m loving @SenSanders . He says what he means & he means what he says & he’s not for sale.” On the day of the debate, the Daily Caller had several pictures of Silverman in shirts promoting Bernie:

Sarah Silverman Bernie

This all raises the question as to why the Republicans are debating but the Democrats are not. The DNC did release their debate schedule late last week:

A total of six debates are scheduled, with six different sponsors: Oct. 13 in Nevada (hosted by CNN); Nov. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa (CBS/KCCI and The Des Moines Register); Dec. 19 in Manchester, New Hampshire (ABC/WMUR); Jan. 17 in Charleston, South Carolina (NBC/Congressional Black Caucus Institute); and two scheduled for either February or March in Miami, Florida, and Wisconsin, hosted by Univision/The Washington Post and PBS, respectively.

Limiting the debates to six, with threats to penalize candidates who participate in any other debates other than those sponsored by the DNC, is believed to have been designed to protect Hillary Clinton from opposition and has received protests from the other candidates and those who desire a more open nominating process.  Bernie Sanders has a petition on his web site calling for more debates. The O’Malley campaign has even threatened to organize debates outside of those sponsored by the DNC. Time reported:

The DNC rule “tramples over everything that is important about the democratic process,” said Jake Oeth, O’Malley’s state director in Iowa. “We welcome anyone who wants to participate and we hope to engage in open conversation with anyone.”

Oeth added that O’Malley staff are in discussions with other Democratic presidential campaigns about the possibility of expanding the number of debates. Deputy campaign manager Lis Smith on Thursday reiterated the point in a tweet.

A spokesman Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign did not immediately respond to questions about discussions with O’Malley’s campaign.

There were more than 20 debates in the Democratic primary in 2008, and 15 in 2004, including debates that were not sanctioned by the DNC…

O’Malley’s campaign is not alone in opposing the six-debate limit. Sanders, who is trailing in polls against Clinton by less than 10 points in Iowa, has started a petition to call for more debates.

“At a time when many Americans are demoralized about politics and have given up on the political process, I think it’s imperative that we have as many debates as possible—certainly more than six,” Sanders said in a statement Thursday. “I look forward to working with the DNC to see if we can significantly expand the proposed debate schedule.”

The DNC, which is staffed by a number of Clinton loyalists, has defended the debate schedule, saying it will allow for a robust discussion over the party’s platform. “These debates will highlight the Democratic Party’s policies, which will continue to strengthen the middle class, and we hope Americans across the political spectrum will tune in,” said party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz.

The threshold to qualify for the Democratic debate is to get 1% in three national polls, conducted by credible news organizations and polling organizations, in the six weeks prior to the debate. This would certainly let Sanders and O’Malley in, along with Biden if he decides to run. Jim Webb would also make it in at present–he is actually polling better than O’Malley nationally. Chaffee is at 0.9 in the RealClearPolitics average so there is a good chance he has at least 1% in three of the polls. It is necessary to have some qualifying threshold as there are actually far more candidates than you might realize, and presumably many more would enter the race if they had a chance at getting into the debates.

Sanders Gaining On Clinton As Her Popularity Drops; In Statistical Tie In New Hampshire

WSJ NBC Poll July

Hillary Clinton continues to be considered the front runner for the Democratic nomination months before any votes have been cast, but her popularity continues to drop. The latest poll to show this came from NBC News/The Wall Street Journal:

The bad news for Hillary Clinton in the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: More Americans view her negatively than they did a month ago, revealing potential vulnerabilities for a general-election presidential contest more than a year away.

The good news for her in the poll: Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field by more than 30 points, and the favorability numbers for two of the top Republicans are even worse than hers.

Just 37 percent of all Americans have a positive view of Clinton, versus 48 percent who have a negative view (-11).

That’s a sharp drop since June, when the NBC/WSJ poll showed her with a 44 percent positive, 40 negative rating (+4) – so an overall 15-point swing…

Despite Clinton’s sinking favorability rating, she continues to lead the Democratic horserace by a wide margin.

She’s the top choice of 59 percent of national Democratic primary voters, while 25 percent pick Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. They’re followed by former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who are tied at 3 percent each.

That margin, however, is smaller than her 60-point national advantage over Sanders a month ago, 75 percent to 15 percent.

If these poll findings persist (and they can change dramatically in over a year), they could indicate problems for Clinton in the general election. Democrats have hoped that any loss in support Clinton receives from the Obama coalition will be made up by more women voters backing Clinton. Now this poll shows a drop in Clinton’s support among white women.

In June, 44% of white women had a favorable view of Mrs. Clinton, compared to 43% who didn’t. In July, those numbers moved in the wrong direction for Mrs. Clinton: Only 34% of white women saw her in a positive light, compared to 53% who had a negative impression of her, the poll found.

Mr. Obama fared poorly with white women voters in the 2012 election, losing them to Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 14 points.

For Team Clinton, the latest poll numbers are a worrisome development. Mrs. Clinton is unlikely to match the African-American turnout that propelled Mr. Obama to two presidential victories, so she has to make up the difference somewhere else. Women eager to see a woman in the White House is a logical group to target. 

Support for Bernie Sanders has increased as support for Clinton has dropped, but some Democrats are searching for another alternative, with multiple stories about Joe Biden possibly running the last few days. Other names also come up occasionally, such as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz:

The 62-year-old CEO has been urged by supporters to join the Democratic primary, with friends “thinking the time is right for someone who’s not a political lifer,” according to Maureen Dowd’s latest New York Times column. The idea, Dowd postulates, could “be a tempting proposition” for Schultz, and offers a worthy party back-up to Clinton should something unforeseen happen to her candidacy…

It would mark a shift for Schultz if he does enter the presidential ring. In an interview with Time in February, Schultz was adamant that he would not run for President in 2016: “I don’t think that is a solution. I don’t think it ends well,” he said in the story. He threw a cautious endorsement of Clinton, saying he was content to “see what Hillary does.”

Schultz has long been vocal about the role of government and its failure in addressing the nation’s pressing issues. In 2013, Schultz started a Starbucks-led petition to end the government shutdown, and delivered more than 2 million signatures to the White House in their “Come Together” campaign. While promoting his book For Love of Country, Schultz talked about the lack of leadership from the U.S. government and politicians: “The country is longing for leadership and for truth with a capital T,” he told Dowd in a New York Times story.

The current success of Donald Trump in the Republican race raises the questions if an outsider such as Schultz could receive comparable support in the Democratic race. On the other hand, the Democrats might already have a potentially successful outsider in Bernie Sanders. Sanders has many of the benefits of an outsider, while also could be seen as a credible candidate for president after having served in Congress for twenty-five years, with a record including opposition to the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. Despite Clinton’s (diminishing) lead nationally,  Sanders is now in a statistical tie with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Victories in both Iowa and New Hampshire might quickly put an end to Clinton’s lead in the national polls.

Major Gaffes From Clinton and Trump Campaigns; Al Gore To The Rescue?

Members of both parties have good reason to worry about the candidates now leading in the polls. Hillary Clinton, along with other Democratic candidates, appeared in Iowa Friday night. Instead of receiving favorable coverage for what she said, the story out of Iowa is how the Clinton campaign told supporters not to speak to reporters. It is bad enough when Clinton avoids answering questions from the press, but it makes no sense to try to gag supporters. She received criticism for this on MSNBC (video above) with quotes from the coverage in The Weekly Standard:

“Here’s what struck me,” said Susan Page of USA Today, “when I read the coverage in the Des Moines Register this morning. Jennifer Jacobs, who’s been on your show, was covering this last night. Big demonstrations outside of young people for O’Malley and Hillary Clinton. She went up to the Clinton supporters — these are protesters for Clinton — and they were told they were not allowed to [speak to] a reporter.”

Page continued, “Now, why in the world would the campaign tell their own supporters who came out to campaign in favor Hillary Clinton … these are the young people, college kids, for Hillary, and they’ve been told they can’t talk to reporters. Why in the world would you do that?

“This raises some warning flags for Hillary Clinton campaign that is trying to control their supporters.”

Steve Kornacki agreed, saying, “Nothing that those supporters could possibly say to the press than the story of telling them not to talk.”

Clinton’s repeated stumbling on the campaign trail, and concern, over her unethical behavior, have raised concerns among  some Democratic voters that nominating Hillary Clinton will lead to a Republican victory on election day. While Bernie Sanders has been stimulated a remarkable amount of excitement around his campaign, some also have concerns over whether he can beat Clinton for the nomination and win the general election. While Joe Biden’s name comes up the most among those who believe another well-known candidate with gravitas is needed to enter the race, Salon has repeated another name which would be worth considering if he is interested–Al Gore. The story is entitled, It’s time to draft Al Gore: If Democrats want to win, it’s clear neither Hillary nor Sanders is the way. The article gives ten reasons why:

Enter Al Gore: the one person on the left, apart from Clinton and Biden, with the cachet to bridge the establishment and progressive wings of the party. Here are 10 reasons why a Gore candidacy makes sense, both for the Democratic Party and the country.

1. Stature. Gore is a superstar with impeccable qualifications. The GOP will have a hard time marginalizing someone of his caliber and experience. His background speaks for itself: a former Congressman, U.S. Senator, and two-time Vice President. He’s even succeed wildly in the private sector as a businessman — something Republicans can’t help but praise. In short, Gore passes the credibility test by any measure, and that matters in a national election. Hillary Clinton is the only other Democratic candidate who can match Gore on this front.

2. Vulnerability. As the new AP poll shows, Clinton’s unfavorability ratings are rising among Americans overall and among Democratic voters in particular. Indeed, her positive marks have plummeted from 81% to 70% among Democrats since April. Worse, as the AP noted: “Just 39 percent of all Americans have a favorable view of Clinton, compared to nearly half who say they have a negative opinion of her.” Hard to win with numbers like that.

These numbers are consistent with another recent poll, which confirmed that Clinton’s lead over the Democratic field has shrunk considerably over the last several months. Some of this is the result of Clinton fatigue, but it’s also due to the rise of Bernie Sanders. The left wing of the party is flocking to Sanders, in part, because they don’t trust Clinton’s centrist record. Gore, on the other hand, who has become much more outspoken since leaving office, could embrace much of Sanders’ populist platform while also selling himself as a more appealing national candidate. That’s a strong case on his behalf, one many Democrats will find persuasive.

3. Besides Hillary Clinton, no one running as a Democrat is likely to challenge Republicans in a national election. Sanders is a regional candidate at best; he shouldn’t be, but he is, and that’s not changing next year. The other candidates scarcely warrant mentioning: Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee – these guys are political ornaments, running for reasons known only to their friends and families. Gore is a national figure, however. He can rival any GOP candidate in terms of fundraising prowess, party support, organizational acumen, experience, and name recognition. He’s also become something of a rock star post-politics, winning a Nobel, an Oscar, and an Emmy. Gore, in other words, is the perfect package, both politically and professionally.

4. Independents. Gore, justifiably or not, is less polarizing than Clinton, which means he can appeal to independents. Although they’re manufactured scandals, issues like the private emails at the State Department and the Benghazi fiasco will plague Clinton in the general election; Republicans (duplicitously, of course) will use these non-issues to bludgeon her month after month, debate after debate, ad after ad. This is pure nonsense, but it will be a distraction nevertheless. Gore, alternatively, brings less comparable baggage – that makes him a harder target for the GOP.

5. Foreign policy. Hillary Clinton is right about a lot of things, but foreign policy isn’t one of them. After our recent misadventures in the Middle East, this really matters. On all things foreign policy, Clinton has a habit of flopping with the political winds. Her maximalist, borderline neoconservative positions at both the Senate and the State Department are a particularly disturbing example of this. Indeed, she beat the war drums on Iraq, Syria, and Iran at one point. In short, Clinton is a hawk, and most of us have seen enough of that in the last decade or so. Gore’s absence from politics during this period gives him a distinct advantage: he wasn’t complicit in our recent geopolitical blunders. He also opposed the Iraq War, something Hillary and the GOP candidates can’t say.

6. The corruption of the political process by Wall Street is — and should be — a major issue in this election. Everyone knows already how much influence the financial industry has in Washington. Hillary Clinton, to her credit, has talked quite a bit about income inequality and political corruption, but the fact remains: Wall Street loves her. This ought to make Democrats uncomfortable. Gore, admittedly because he hasn’t run for office in years, has not relied on Wall Street for campaign funding — at least not in recent history. If nothing else, this is a mark in Gore’s favor, and another reason for Democrats to get behind his campaign.

7. Climate change. As Ezra Klein argued a few months ago in a column about Gore, “Income inequality is a serious problem…But climate change is an existential threat.” Gore, whatever you think of him, is an unimpeachable authority on climate change. As Klein wrote, “When it comes to climate change, there’s no one in the Democratic Party – or any other political party – with Gore’s combination of credibility and commitment.” Given the president’s unique ability to make a difference on an issue like this, it matters a great deal who wins this election. We can’t say definitively what Hillary Clinton would or would not do about climate change, but we can be fairly certain that Al Gore would do more than any other potential candidate for president.

8. Gore has nothing to lose. Having been out of politics for so long, Gore is liberated in ways no other candidate is. He’s got no recent voting record to scrutinize (read: distort); he’s independently wealthy and well-connected; and his private sector activism has allowed him to take authentic positions on issues that matter to him – and most Democrats. He’s beholden, in other words, to fewer constituencies than anyone else currently running. Perhaps most importantly, because he’s succeeded to such a degree in his post-political life, we’ve every reason to believe he’d feel empowered to take chances and risk failure. Isn’t that the candidate most people want?

9. Vengeance. If we’re stuck with a rerun election (Clinton vs. Bush), most would prefer to see Gore get his vengeance against another Bush. Gore, you may recall, was elected president in 2000 over George W. Bush. For reasons we won’t get into now, that victory was stolen from Gore in Florida, thanks in no small part to Jeb Bush, who was then governor of that state. With Jeb the likely Republican candidate next year, it would be a delightful bit of Karmic justice for him to lose to the man he robbed 16 years prior.

10. Democrats need a spark. Gore may not be new, but his candidacy would feel that way. His political life seems a distant memory at this point, but his activism and business savvy have kept him in the public consciousness. As with most politicians, moreover, the freedom of not having to run for office has done wonders for Gore’s image. His entrance and voice would only enliven the Democratic Party, which is exactly what it needs in an election decided, overwhelmingly, by voter turnout.

While I would like to give Sanders more time to see if he can continue to grow his support, Gore would also make an excellent alternative to Hillary Clinton. I doubt Gore would be interested, but it would also be satisfying to see him beat not only Hillary Clinton, but to beat a Bush should Jeb get the nomination.

The current Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, is far less likely than Clinton to actually win their party’s nomination, and there must be many Republicans who are terrified of the prospect of this front-runner actually winning. The Weekly Standard reports on the latest outrageous statement from Trump (video above):

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump, a Republican running for president, said of McCain. “I like people that weren’t captured. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

This statement is bad enough under any circumstance, but it comes off as even worse considering how Trump received several deferments to avoid serving in Viet Nam. While I don’t fault Trump for avoiding military service in Viet Nam, but to attack someone such as McCain who did serve is totally uncalled for.

Trump also refused to rule out running as a third party candidate. Hopefully he does so, as this would probably guarantee a Democratic victory.

You might not read about such gaffes from Trump in the future in the political section of The Huffington Post.

After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won’t report on Trump’s campaign as part of The Huffington Post’s political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section. Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.

While they have a point, I cannot agree with this decision. Donald Trump, like it or not, is a major part of this campaign at the moment. If he was polling under five percent, then maybe this could be justified, but he is now leading the Republican field in the polls. As repugnant as his platform is, there unfortunately is a following for Trump’s brand of racism and xenophobia among the Republican base. It is a real part of this campaign.

Update: No apology from Donald Trump, leading to predictions that Trump is toast. That is fine, but why not even earlier? Apparently among many conservative politicians and media outlets, racist and xenophobic statements are not a campaign-killer.