Hillary Clinton in national polls seems to have bore it all. Through the State Department email scandal, issues with the Clinton Foundation and her avoidance of the media she continues to lead a fractured Republican field. But a new Quinnipiac survey of three battleground states finds the Democratic frontrunner in trouble in three reliably Obama supporting states.
The Quinnipiac survey tested Clinton against three GOP opponents (Bush, Walker and Rubio) in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia. Against all three opponents in all three states she trails. In Colorado, she trials Bush 41-36, Rubio 46-38 and Walker 47-38. In Iowa she falls behind Bush 42-36, Rubio 44-36 and Walker 45-37. Lastly, in diverse Virginia she trials Bush 42-39, Rubio 43-41 and Walker 43-40. These numbers are less significant than the opinion voters have of her.
Clinton gets markedly negative favorability ratings in each state, 35-56 percent in Colorado, 33-56 percent in Iowa and 41-50 percent in Virginia On trust and honesty voters have a low opinion of her. In Colorado a mere 34 percent say she is trustworthy compared to 62 percent who say she is not. In Iowa the same problem shows with a 33-59 spread and less so but still present in Virginia 39-55. She also has not convinced voters she knows their problems. In Virginia 50 percent say she does not care about their needs and problems to 45 percent who do. In Iowa her situation is worse with 55 percent saying she does not care about their problems to 39 percent who do. In Colorado, 57 percent say she does not care about their problems to 39 percent who do. The only thing she has going for her is that more voters view her as a strong leader than those who do not.
Walker, Bush and Rubio all have higher favorables in every state except Bush in Colorado and have more voters say the care about their issues and are strong leaders than those who don’t. Particularly troubling for Clinton is her drop in Iowa where voters are so exposed to campaign ads and themes. In the prior Quinnipiac poll she easily led all her GOP contenders but now has fallen behind. Part of this might relate to her absence from the state but also from GOP attacks against her.
Now one poll does not a trend make but it is definitely troubling for her campaign. When one looks at the crosstabs it is clear her campaign does not just need to make inroads with GOP constituencies but also make gains among Democratic leaning groups. In Colorado, Clinton trials Bush by 8 among Independents, Walker by 11 and Rubio by 7. Among key constituencies the GOP trio has a distinct edge. Bush leads among men by 23 while Clinton leads among women by 12. Rubio leads among men by 28 and Walker by 26 while Clinton has narrower leads among women. In other words, the vaunted gender gap that served Democrats so well might finally be coming back to bite them like it did in 2014.
Virginia and Iowa are similar stories. In Virginia Bush leads among men by 13 to Clinton’s 5 among women. Rubio and Walker win men by 11 to Clinton’s 4 and 5 point edges among women. Independents are more narrowly split but favor Rubio and Walker and tie among Bush and Clinton. Iowa is similar to Colorado in finding a larger gender gap and Independents broadly turning against Clinton. Independents favor Bush by 7, Walker by 16 and Rubio by 13. Men favor Bush by 19, Walker by 24 and Rubio by 22 while Clinton commands smaller edges among women.
Smart Democrats will look at this poll and scoff at the notion the GOP can keep up these margins. Maybe they can’t. But Clinton has telegraphed she is going to make her campaign about gender and race, both things swing men turn against. While Democrats have proven they can win single women consistently single men are a core swing group that backed Obama in 2012 yet turned to the GOP last year. A campaign based on themes offputting to any group but women and racial minorities is unlikely to aid Democrats in a strongly white state like Iowa and diversifying but still predominately white Virginia and Colorado.
The overall message from the poll results are that Clinton is far from a shoe-in for the White House. While traditionally blue states will undoubtedly back her candidacy it is the battleground states that will test whether her campaign can overcome issues about her trustworthiness and ability to empathize with the public. Romney could not and he actually won voters on the issues. But with campaigns now being fought over cultural and economic lines the ability of a candidate to convince voters he/she understands them is usually the difference between victory and defeat.