If a recent focus group of Democrats is any indication, Hillary Clinton — once considered a lock to win her party’s presidential nomination — is facing mounting problems as the early primaries and caucuses approach.
The focus group of 11 Democrats gathered in Philadelphia last week, and was moderated by Democratic pollster Peter Hart.
When Hart pushed the group to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the two front-runners, Clinton and Barack Obama, some telling differences emerged, reports Albert R. Hunt, executive editor for Washington at Bloomberg News.
The focus group worried that voters might not be ready for an African-American president, that Obama lacks experience, and can’t win the nomination.
But “a couple of victories in Iowa and New Hampshire would cure most of those problems,” Hunt observes.
The worries about Hillary are that she is devious, calculating and perhaps a divisive figure.
“Those are a lot tougher to overcome,” said Hunt.
When pushed further to envision the two candidates as president, the group thought Obama would be inspirational, motivating, and compassionate. But they said Clinton “would be demanding, difficult, maybe even a little scary,” Hunt disclosed.
One focus group member said: “I don’t feel like I look at her and see someone who’s telling me the whole truth.”
Noting that Clinton’s once formidable leads over Obama in Iowa and New Hampshire have dwindled, Hunt concludes that Hillary “may well finish third in the Iowa caucuses and lose to Obama in New Hampshire.
“In the past 30 years, no candidate has lost both these tests and won the nomination.”
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