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Eye On Candidates
February 24, 2016

Clinton’s Nomination Struggles May Foreshadow Problems in General Election

Media attention is focused on businessman Donald Trump’s resounding win in the Nevada caucuses last night, and rightfully so. With nearly 46 percent of the vote, Trump finished with almost double his nearest rival, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and his share of the vote puts him close to the 50 percent number that would put to rest many of the assumptions about there being a ceiling on his support that limits his ability to win if and when the race becomes a two-person contest.

But the most interesting story of the day might be from National Journal political correspondent Josh Kraushaar, who takes a look at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s struggles so far and sees problems for her in the general election if she wins the Democratic nomination:

Primaries a Preview of Clinton’s General Election Problems

Demo­crat­ic turnout is no­tice­ably down from its high-wa­ter mark in 2008, with sig­ni­fic­antly more GOP voters turn­ing out in Iowa and New Hamp­shire. Re­pub­lic­ans held a 15,700-vote turnout ad­vant­age in Iowa and a 33,000-vote edge in New Hamp­shire. Mean­while, Nevada turnout was down 30 per­cent from the Obama-Clin­ton clash of eight years ago.

Clin­ton ex­pec­ted to rely on over­whelm­ing sup­port among wo­men against Bernie Sanders, but only won 53 per­cent of their sup­port in Iowa, 44 per­cent in New Hamp­shire, and 57 per­cent in Nevada. Among wo­men un­der 45, she wasn’t even com­pet­it­ive with Sanders in the first two states. She’s still cap­able of run­ning up the gender gap in a gen­er­al elec­tion, but her sur­pris­ing weak­ness in the primary un­der­scores that young­er wo­men aren’t buy­ing her mes­sage of sis­ter­hood—and it will take more than just gendered ap­peals to turn them out against a Re­pub­lic­an.

Young­er voters across the coun­try have out­right re­belled against the pro­spect of a Clin­ton dyn­asty. Sanders won a whop­ping 84 per­cent of un­der-30s in Iowa, 83 per­cent in New Hamp­shire, and 82 per­cent in Nevada. Mil­len­ni­als were a crit­ic­al com­pon­ent in Obama’s vic­tor­ies, cast­ing aside their slack­er repu­ta­tions to turn out in re­cord num­bers in sup­port of the pres­id­ent. Without Trump as a nom­in­ee, however, it’s very hard to see Clin­ton com­ing close to match­ing Obama’s rap­port among this core Demo­crat­ic con­stitu­ency.

Mean­while, des­pite her cam­paign’s best ef­forts to rally His­pan­ics by pas­sion­ately ad­voc­at­ing for im­mig­ra­tion re­form, there’s little sign that they’re fol­low­ing suit. Clin­ton’s cam­paign is prob­ably right that they won the His­pan­ic vote in the Nevada caucuses, even with (flawed) en­trance polls show­ing a nar­row Sanders win. But she shouldn’t be cel­eb­rat­ing too much. A nar­row win over Sanders among His­pan­ic voters is hardly an en­cour­aging sign, since Clin­ton over­whelm­ingly won their sup­port in 2008 (64-26 per­cent over Obama) and has been much more out­spoken on im­mig­ra­tion than Sanders.

A recent article in is too much of a cheerleading piece for Clinton’s rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, to take as objective analysis, but it does raise some valid issues that some Democrats seem to be concerned over:

…American voters don’t trust Hillary Clinton. At what point will critics of Bernie Sanders realize that American voters will never vote for a candidate they don’t trust and don’t like?...

53.8% of all American voters have an “unfavorable” view of Hillary Clinton.

67% of American voters find Hillary Clinton “not honest and trustworthy,” compared with 59% for Donald Trump. Yes, more people trust Donald Trump….

71% of men and 64% of women find Clinton “not honest and trustworthy.”

74% of Independent voters find Clinton “not honest and trustworthy.”

35% of Democrats find Clinton “not honest and trustworthy.” Yes, even Democrats.

The November general election wouldn’t simply ask voters if they would like Clinton to be the next president, of course – there will be at least one other major candidate who brings his own shortcomings and issues into the election. But as Kraushaar’s piece points out, Clinton is not showing the sort of strength with important voter groups that her campaign would like to see, and she faces some serious challenges as a general election candidate.