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Experts: Obama's Ratings Will Be Major Predictor for Hillary

Image: Experts: Obama's Ratings Will Be Major Predictor for Hillary
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By    |   Friday, 17 Apr 2015 05:30 PM

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's biggest opponent will not be the Republican presidential nominee but President Barack Obama and his job approval ratings ahead of election day, say election experts Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley.

Obama's approval numbers are important because "no retiring president below 50 percent job approval nationally has passed the White House to his party's nominee in the 75 years of the polling era," they write in an opinion piece for Politico.

The president is averaging about 45 percent right now, with about 50 percent disapproval, which is better than where he was around the time of the November midterms. While there are some anomalies, the success of a sitting president seems to make or break a candidate of the same party.

"In 2016 it is guaranteed that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will embrace the president she served as secretary of state because she needs a large turnout among Obama's core minority and young voters," the three analysts contend.

But, at the same time, she will want to win more than the 39 percent of the white vote that the president captured in 2012. To do so, they contend that "she will also gingerly try to put a little distance between her and less popular parts of the Obama record," while highlighting her "intimate connection" to the administration of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

It will help Clinton "dramatically" if Obama's approval numbers go up as the election nears. However, if Obama's numbers stay where they are, it "isn't ideal" but it "wouldn't be an anvil tied to Clinton's ankle" either. However, if his popularity drops even more, "Clinton will have been defeated by Obama twice."

However, state and national polling need to be considered separately, Sabato, Kondik and Skelley write.

"Obama is not at 45 percent approval everywhere, not even in places where history tells us he probably should be," they argue. National and state polls seem "to be telling inconsistent stories," similar to the 2012 presidential race.

Leading up to the 2012 presidential election, national polls showed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney slightly ahead, while Obama was ahead in the battleground states.

"As of now, with regard to Obama's job approval, the national polls are generally better for the Democrats than the state surveys, a reversal of the situation two and a half years ago," they add.

"This is a trend worth monitoring as the presidential race takes shape."

The other number to watch is the white vote, especially in battleground states, Sabato, Kondik and Skelley argue.

Since several swing states, such as Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all have large white populations and "the 2012 exit poll found that 72 percent of the national electorate was white," that will also be an important number to watch, especially since Obama won only a majority of the white vote in New Hampshire and Iowa in 2012, the three experts say.

"If Republicans are able to capture an even larger share of the 2016 white vote than Romney did in 2012 (59 percent), this could have major consequences in the Electoral College," they write.

"These states could provide a path to victory for the 2016 GOP nominee, though he will have to break the party's long dry spells in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin," they add.

"But lower white support for the Democratic presidential nominee could at least open the door to Republicans in all of these states."

Sabato is professor of politics and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Kondik and Skelley are both editors of "The Crystal Ball," a political newsletter published by the center.

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's biggest opponent will not be the Republican presidential nominee but President Barack Obama and his job approval ratings ahead of election day, say election experts Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley.
Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik, Geoffrey Skelley, approval
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2015-30-17
Friday, 17 Apr 2015 05:30 PM
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