It may have been a tough few weeks for presumed Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton but her slot "as the undisputed front-runner in the Democratic field has hardly wavered," according to the most recent Center for Politics (CFP) "crystal ball" prognostications
While Clinton's latest email controversy and public scrutiny of her family's foundation accepting massive foreign donations have grabbed headlines, Clinton is still solid and remains far atop any other lower-tier future candidates, said the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato, who leads the CFP, of her enduring strength.
"Given the paucity of strong foes, the media appear to be a bigger opponent than anyone in the Democratic field," he wrote. "The email episode, the questions about foreign money, and other challenges to Clinton may eventually prove damaging or even fatal to her candidacy — but certainly not yet. Not even close."
He added: "The media and Clinton's conservative critics, the two entities most riled up by the recent revelations, don't vote in the Democratic primaries, and unless these controversies become real scandals with smoking guns, they won't topple Clinton as the Democratic front-runner."
On the GOP side, the most notable dive surrounds New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, according to the CFP.
The governor has a tough economic picture in his home state and a strained budget, but he stepped up earlier this month to give a "pep talk" of sorts to his political action committee donors, The Wall Street Journal said
. He asked them to stay focused during what is a tough time along his future political journey, even as he registered the largest favorability dip of possible GOP presidential contenders, the CFP said.
In spite of his admonitions, Christie's ongoing negative outlook at home seems to be impeding his popularity, which has been overshadowed by the strength of Jeb Bush among establishment GOP supporters, the CFP noted.
"All indications are that Christie has faltered to some degree, with Bush seizing a great deal of establishment oxygen (and money) and Gov. Scott Walker proving a more attractive sitting-governor candidate with appeal to both the establishment and grassroots. At this point, Christie is a leading 'governor alternative,' but he is no longer in the top tiers of our rankings," Sabato wrote.
With Bush leading the GOP pack, Marco Rubio steps into the third position of top possible Republican candidates and seems to be positioning himself as an "ideas man" among a crowded field, the CFP said.
CNN described Rubio's current strategy
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