July 30, 2015 — In the past few days, media analysts have been talking up the idea that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders could actually overtake and defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. There is no doubt Clinton is free falling while Sanders moves upwards — some say he’s surging, but that is an overstatement – yet, the former Secretary of State and First Lady’s lead remains secure. One only needs to check Democratic Party nomination rules for verification that she is still the prohibitive favorite.
An article from Time magazine senior political analyst Mark Halperin for Bloomberg Politics suggests that Sanders could actually win the nomination, providing seven specific reasons to support his argument. Yesterday, Gallup released their new data (July 8-21; 2,374 adults, 966 adults who identify with the Democratic Party) that finds Clinton’s favorability index moving into upside-down territory (43:46 percent positive to negative) while Sanders is doubling his positive ID based upon a comparison from their previous survey.
Now, let’s return to earth. Halperin argues that it would be a defeat for Clinton to only top Sanders 2:1 in the early states. Such a result would allow the self-described socialist to continue his campaign, because the media will write this scenario as a Sanders’ win. But, the writer overlooks one fundamental point in building for a nomination victory: the delegate count.
Because the Democratic nomination rules require all 57 states and territories to award delegates on a proportional basis, Clinton, in the above scenario, would commit two-thirds of the state delegate vote in this so-called “loss”. Therefore, Sanders’ task of recruiting enough national convention delegate votes to deny Clinton the nomination under this system becomes very difficult.
Relating to her favorability ratings, moving into upside-down territory is not particularly surprising for any of the 2016 presidential candidates. In fact, the man leading most Republican polls, businessman Donald Trump, has the worst favorability index of any candidate. Of all the 23 candidates tested in this Gallup poll, 12 also are in negative territory. And, among only primary voting Democrats, Clinton’s favorability rating is 74:18 percent positive to negative.
To Gallup’s point that Sanders has doubled his own positive favorability rating, he has, but that translates into ascending only to 24 percent (from 12 percent), or 19 points below Hillary Clinton’s positive score.
Therefore, while Clinton is not well positioned for a general election campaign, Bernie Sanders is not likely going to ascend to “major threat” level anytime soon.
New Hampshire Senate
With Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) still refusing to commit to running for re-election or challenging Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) next year, a new poll may give the Granite State chief executive reason to pause even further.
The NBC/Marist College July presidential poll (July 14-21) that we covered earlier in the week also tested the New Hampshire Senate race — a campaign that has the potential of becoming a major national contest.
Despite Gov. Hassan scoring a 57:35 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval rating among the 910 registered voters surveyed, it is Sen. Ayotte who leads within the polling universe.
According to the data, Sen. Ayotte is staked to a 50-42 percent advantage, a net gain of 12 percentage points over Hassan from NBC/Marist’s similar poll taken in February.
Should such polling results continue to be reported in the near future, the likelihood of Gov. Hassan launching her challenge lessens significantly.