Hillary Clinton's current controversies over a private email server and contributions to the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments while she was secretary of state could embolden some Democratic opponents, but not likely heavy hitters, says political scientist Larry Sabato.
A CNN/ORC poll
shows that her numbers have fallen in the wake of the email controversy.
"This can actually encourage some of the minor candidates to stay in, even if they're not raising much money and don't see an immediate return in the polls," Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said Monday on Fox News Channel's
"Your World with Neil Cavuto."
Sabato noted that Jimmy Carter was polling less that 1 percent a year and a half before the 1976 election, and that 18 months ahead of 1972's vote "you couldn't have found three people in the country who thought [George McGovern] would be the Democratic nominee."
But heavier hitters such as former Vice President Al Gore or Secretary of State John Kerry, who previously have been their party's nominee, are far less likely to jump in, he said.
"The only cure for presidentialitis is, of course, to be six feet under. We just saw that with Mitt Romney," Sabato said. "What do Al Gore and John Kerry have in common? They've both run for president before and came reasonably close to ... so they might rekindle their ambitions. It's possible. It's unlikely, but it's possible."
Sabato responded to Clinton insider James Carville
, who on Sunday said challengers were wasting their time taking on Clinton.
"James Carville is doing his job," Sabato said. "He has been a member, lead member, of the Clinton posse since 1992."
Clinton is a heavy favorite, Sabato said, but he added that anything can happen between now and the primaries.
"You never know whether a big scandal that will really knock her off her perch will come to the fore, he said. "We are more than a year and a half out. That's an extraordinarily long period of time."
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