William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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ALREADY? – AT 9:19 A.M. ET:  There is already polling for 2016.  We have to list this as "entertainment," for that's exactly what it is.  Conditions will change by late 2014, when the 2016 presidential campaign begins, and so will candidates.  Biology – people do pass on or get sick – may also play a role.  (It's interesting that of the 18 presidents we've had in the last 100 years, only two have died in office of natural causes – Harding and FDR.  But Woodrow Wilson was severely incapacited by a stroke.)

Polling on Hillary Clinton is highly favorable, and she will be a formidable candidate if she runs.  It's disturbing that the American people don't hold her at least partly responsible for the failures of the Obama foreign policy, but I'm not sure they're aware of those failures.  The press hasn't exactly been forthright.  From ABC News: 

Carried by a new high in personal popularity and broad approval of her work as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton closes out her diplomatic career with majority support as a candidate for president in 2016.

Fifty-seven percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’d back a run by Clinton to succeed Barack Obama, vs. 37 percent opposed. That includes a broad gender gap – 66 percent support for Clinton among women, dropping to 49 percent among men...

...Clinton’s fared well during her tenure at State; 68 percent approve of her work, second only to Colin Powell among the last five secretaries of state. (He managed a remarkable 85 percent approval in 2002 and 2003.)

That was laughable, and created by the halo placed around Powell by the media.  He was barely there.

Similarly, two-thirds in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, see Clinton favorably overall, numerically a new high in her long public career as first lady, U.S. Senator, presidential candidate and top U.S. diplomat.

Clinton’s recovered from personal favorability as low as 44 percent in April 2008, during her presidential run; she also dropped that low in June 2003, when she was discussed as a possible candidate in the 2004 presidential race, and in June 1996, during the Whitewater controversy. Those dips underscore the potential risks should she climb back into the political fray.

In another sign of the challenges of a political candidacy, intensity of sentiment is better for Clinton personally, and as secretary of state, than it is for her as a candidate. Her “strongly” favorable rating and strong approval of her job performance outnumber her strong negatives, in both cases, by more than 2-1 margins. Strong support for her as a candidate also outweighs strong opposition, but much more narrowly, by 9 percentage points, 36 to 27 percent.

Politics are comparative, so actual support for Clinton as a candidate would depend more than anything on her opponents, in the Democratic primaries and general election alike. That said, having 57 percent willing to give you a look (55 percent among registered voters) is not a bad starting point...

COMMENT:  It all depends on whether the Republicans get their act together.  Candidates like Marco Rubio could electrify the country, and give Clinton a serious run.

And then there's the Democratic nomination itself.  Women will demand their turn, but will they turn to Clinton?  Dems are ideologists, so don't underestimate the possibility of Elizabeth Warren challenging Clinton from the left.  She's even frumpier, and her claim to be part-Cherokee, even though probably false, will warm the hearts of the wealthy leftovers from 1960s street demonstrations.  What payback for General Custer!  Long overdue, don't you think?

Look, it's very early, but the numbers mean that Hillary can sleep easier tonight. 

December 5, 2012