Pundits from both sides of the aisle have been sparring back and forth on the importance of the Hillary scandals of the last few months. The issues that she has faced from Benghazi to the email scandal to the activity of the Clinton Foundation boils down to one thing — trust.
Can you trust Hillary Clinton as president? Does trust still matter? Her ardent supporters will always support her, but the trust issue may harden the glass ceiling of her potential with the electorate as a whole.
The campaign launch of Hillary 2016 has been anything but smooth. The candidate’s time as secretary of state has come under intense scrutiny. When it was revealed that she had been using a private email address on her own server, there was a media frenzy and conservative outrage over it.
It was worsened by her press conference where she said she was using the private email for convenience so that she would not need to carry two devices. You don’t need a Ph.D. in information technology to know that one device can handle two emails.
She was flailing for a life preserver under some basic questioning. This was soon followed by the release of the book, "Clinton Cash," which brought into question her decision-making as secretary of state. Her husband was receiving huge donations to the Clinton Foundation and generous speaking engagements from some connected parties to U.S. diplomacy. This has brought charges of pay-to-play against her and her husband. She has since avoided questions from the press in unprecedented fashion.
Can Hillary be trusted? Does it matter? According to ABC News/Washington Post, she was considered “honest and trustworthy” by 41 percent of voters. This was down from 46 percent just two months ago, and 53 percent a year ago.
Amazingly, her approval rating amongst Democrats has not budged. She is still is viewed very favorably by 6 in 10 Democrats, and she continues to lead all of the hypothetical match-ups versus the Republican field. Her campaign’s issues have not led to her downfall for a few reasons, but there is serous cause for concern.
Her approval numbers and polling advantage is from the Hillary base that will never desert her as a candidate. She can say or do almost anything, and those voters are going to line up to pull the lever for Hillary.
Her problem is that she is not polling over 50 percent in any of those hypothetical head-to-head polls. Those opponents are not known quantities to the electorate as a whole. Her opponents have much more of a glass ceiling when it comes to improving those poll numbers while Hillary’s support is cemented and growing that base may be very difficult.
Our polarized electorate is a reliably 45 percent Democratic vote, 45 percent Republican vote, and 10 percent independent vote. Those independents are the true unknowns in current presidential politics. It looks like Hillary has her 45 percent in the bag, but her headwinds are those 10 percent who may not warm to an extremely known candidate who they find untrustworthy.
Independents loved the fresh, new excitement brought on by candidate-Obama in 2008. They felt optimistic that they were doing something historic in the voting booth by electing a dynamic candidate that they personally liked and trusted. Hillary does not have those characteristics going for her in 2016, and this has opened the window for a dynamic Republican candidate to energize those independents.
The field for the Republican side is too big right now, and handicapping the race this early is a fool’s errand. If a Republican can offer a hopeful, optimistic message that appeals to working people, then there is a chance to pick up those independent votes.
With an anemic economy and a foreign policy of Band-Aid measures with no clear direction, it will be very difficult for Hillary to differentiate herself from the current administration, which she was a part of. A dynamic conservative with clear messaging who appears trustworthy to the electorate can build a winning coalition.
Hillary remains an early favorite in 2016, but early favorites don’t always work out. Just ask Hillary herself.
Kevin Broderick serves as a consultant for a Fortune 500 Insurer in the Employee Benefits marketplace for large employers. He received a finance degree from Providence College. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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