I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

When Good Numbers Go Bad

Via Memeorandum, I ran into a startling figure which turned out to be a bit of misdirection from The Influence Peddler. With the breathless post title, "Is Hillary a Sure Loser?" I quickly clicked through the jump to see what was stirring this morning.

The post refers to the latest Rasmussen poll showing, essentially, that no matter which GOP candidate you match Clinton up against, she pulls roughly the same numbers - between 46 and 49 percent. The article (and the Influence Peddler post) focus primarily on the poll analysis of a theoretical match-up between Hillary and Ron Paul - arguably the least known, least popular candidate on the GOP slate. Even against such an unlikely and unfavorable candidate she only grabs 48 to 49 percent.

Interesting news, no doubt. From the beginning there has been no question that Hillary has some significant negative numbers. (You can generally count Ron and I here as people who aren't enthusiastic about her.) However, The Influence Peddler reads these numbers and comes to this jarring conclusion: (emphasis mine)
Hillary has nearly universal name identification. Nearly every American has an opinion of her. And regardless of what Americans know or don't know about her potential opponents, a majority refuses to vote for her -- even against the weakest and most obscure candidate in the GOP field.

That certainly sounds bad for Clinton, eh? No candidate can win if an absolute "majority" of the country will definitely vote against them. This would mean that the Democrats would either need to move those negatives down several points, pick a new candidate, or cede the White House to the GOP in 08. However, if you click through to the actual ceiling and floor numbers you'll find something slightly different than the post implies.

Looking at core support and opposition on a net basis, Clinton also comes out on top in October. With 35% saying they will definitely vote for her and 46% definitely voting against, Clinton’s net is minus 11 points.

Giuliani’s net number is minus 14 (29% definitely for and 43% definitely against). Thompson is close behind at minus 15 (24% for, 39% against).

Last time I checked, 46% didn't constitute a "majority" of anything. What The Influence Peddler fails to take into account (as so many seem to fail to do) is that the total numbers don't add up to 100%. You've got 46% definitely voting against her, and 35% definitely voting for her. That leaves a gap of 19% to fill. And who makes up that critical void? We do. The moderates and independents who don't already have a vote with an "R" or a "D" after it locked and loaded for the polling machines.

And while Clinton definitely has some high and solid negative numbers, the poll results show that all of her potential GOP opponents have further to go - in terms of swaying the independents in the center - than she does. Even Rudy, who gets a lot of press about his moderate credentials (which is a load of horse hockey) is starting from a 29% floor, a full six percent behind Clinton.

She has a vast, solid block of people ready to vote against her, but she appears to have less work to do than any of the Republicans to squeak out 51% in the general election. And no matter who the final candidates are, this one is shaping up to be another photo finish. However, calling anyone a "sure loser" at this early stage, before the moderates and independents have weighed in, is more than premature or optimistic. It's delusional.


  1. Good post Jazz
    A couple of more points. The first is that the 2008 winner won't get 51% - third party candidates will take a chunk of the votes.
    Second point is one I made the other day.
    The right has been digging up dirt on Hillary for 16 years - there is very little they can say that most people don't know already. The same can't be said for Rudy or Mitt. Rudy has so many skeletons in his closet that the US voter doesn't know about that Bill Clinton and James Carville will have plenty of ammunition

  2. If 46% vote for Hillary, and 20% vote for Stephen Colbert, that leaves almost 40% to vote republican, and we end up with Hillary in charge.


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