Hillary Clinton's biggest hurdle to the White House is its current resident.
According to an analysis by the University of Virginia's Center for Politics,
if President Barack Obama doesn’t reach a consistent 50 percent favorability rating by Election Day 2016, Clinton, should she decide to run for president, would have a difficult, if not impossible, chance of winning the race.
"Even though he will not be on the ballot, however, evidence from past open-seat presidential contests indicates that the public’s evaluation of Obama’s performance in office will have a substantial impact on the outcome of the election," the University of Virginia's Alan Abramowitz writes.
According to the coattails analysis using 62 years of polling and election data, an incumbent president’s approval rating "explains over half of the variance in the vote share of his party’s nominee," Abramowitz writes.
Going back to Dwight Eisenhower’s election in 1952 and evaluating the five other races following two-term presidencies, Abramowitz found all three seeking to succeed their president when he had ratings below 50 percent were defeated.
Two of three running to succeed a president of their own party with ratings above 50 percent won.
The exception, the analysis noted, was Al Gore. President Bill Clinton had a rating higher than 50 percent, and Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush.
"If the president’s approval rating remains below 50 percent in the fall of 2016, the Republican nominee should be a slight favorite; if the president’s approval rating is above 50 percent by the fall of 2016, the Democratic nominee should be a slight favorite," Abramowtiz concludes.
Though Obama's poll numbers
have come up recently to about 46 percent —
"good news for Hillary Clinton or whomever the Democratic Party eventually chooses as its nominee," Abramowitz writes —
a new Gallup poll
of the president's average annual approval is ominous.
The survey shows the president in the one-year period between Jan. 20, 2014, and Monday posted an approval average of just 42.6 percent.
Previously, Obama's lowest yearly average came during the third year of his presidency, 44.4 percent, and his current yearly average is below last year's average of 45.8 percent, according to Politico.
But if Obama is Clinton's biggest hurdle to election, potential GOP presidential candidates are not, a new Washington Post and ABC News poll shows.
That survey shows the former secretary of State beating every potential GOP opponent in a head-to-head contest.
When pitted against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Clinton is ahead by 15 points; she's ahead by 13 points against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and both Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would lose to Clinton by 13 points. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee would trail her by 17 points.
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