Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

As revelations mount, Hillary Clinton's poll numbers plunge

If you still insist the never-ending series of negative revelations about Hillary Clinton's secretive, off-the-books email policy as secretary of state and her conflicts of interest via the Clinton Foundation won't hurt her candidacy, you might be a Democrat.

CNN earlier this week released its latest poll about the 2016 race, and it shows a sharp public change of heart toward the presumptive Democratic nominee. Her favorability rating swung from plus-9 in mid-March -- and plus-21 last November -- to a minus-4 in the latest poll, conducted May 29-31. Clinton has been featured in opinion polls about as many times as anyone still active in politics, and her 50 percent unfavorable rating is her highest since March 2001. Only one other time since 1992 (in January 1996) has her unfavorable rating been higher than it is now; in the run-up to her 2008 primary defeat by Barack Obama, it never surpassed 46 percent. The still-unquestioning support of the vast majority of Democrats is the only reason her numbers in the poll look even halfway decent.

There are two characteristics that go a long way toward explaining this sharp reversal: whether voters see Clinton as someone who cares about them, and whether they consider her honest and trustworthy.

CNN didn't ask those questions in March, but it did  in April . Her standing among Republicans was as dismal then as it is now, and the opposite is largely true among Democrats. Rather, it's independents' opinion of her that's in an absolute free-fall. In the course of just six weeks, Clinton's standing with independents on the "cares about people like you" question went from plus-51 to minus-17. Equally stunning is her drop on the "is honest and trustworthy" question: from plus-37 to minus-24.

Those do not look like the periodic gyrations that political candidates face over the course of a long campaign. They look like a hard flip from an overwhelmingly positive view of her to a sharply negative view of her.

What's more, Clinton's commanding lead over top Republican candidates in head-to-head match-ups has all but evaporated. In April, Clinton held double-digit leads over each of eight Republicans. Now, she's in a virtual tie with Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Scott Walker, while Jeb Bush and even Ted Cruz are within single digits of her. (The other three weren't mentioned in the latest poll.)

A narrowing was bound to happen as we got closer to the election, but keep in mind that we're still probably a year away from knowing for sure who the GOP will nominate. Again, what's most noteworthy are the speed with which this has happened (just six weeks), and the way independents have sharply changed their minds:

  • Against Bush, Clinton went from plus-17 among independents in April to minus-3 in May.
  • Against Cruz, from plus-22 to minus-1.
  • Against Paul, from plus-17 to minus-7.
  • Against Rubio, from plus-13 to minus-3.
  • Against Walker, from plus-21 to minus-6.

Those represent swings among independent voters of 16 to 27 points -- again, in just six weeks.

And there's every indication the Clinton Foundation stories are only going to continue. Here's the latest one, from the Washington Times :

"Bill Clinton's foundation set up a fundraising arm in Sweden that collected $26 million in donations at the same time that country was lobbying Hillary Rodham Clinton's State Department to forgo sanctions that threatened its thriving business with Iran, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Times.

"The Swedish entity, called the William J. Clinton Foundation Insamlingsstiftelse, was never disclosed to or cleared by State Department ethics officials, even though one of its largest sources of donations was a Swedish government-sanctioned lottery.

"As the money flowed to the foundation from Sweden, Mrs. Clinton's team in Washington declined to blacklist any Swedish firms despite warnings from career officials at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm that Sweden was growing its economic ties with Iran and potentially undercutting Western efforts to end Tehran's rogue nuclear program, diplomatic cables show.

"'Sweden does not support implementing tighter financial sanctions on Iran' and believes 'more stringent financial standards could hurt Swedish exports,' one such cable from 2009 alerted Mrs. Clinton's office in Washington.

"Separately, U.S. intelligence was reporting that Sweden's second-largest employer, telecommunications giant Ericsson AB, was pitching cellphone tracking technology to Iran that could be used by the country's security services, officials told The Times.

"By the time Mrs. Clinton left office in 2013, the Clinton Foundation Insamlingsstiftelse had collected millions of dollars inside Sweden for his global charitable efforts and Mr. Clinton personally pocketed a record $750,000 speech fee from Ericsson, one of the firms at the center of the sanctions debate."

Read the whole thing , and then try to convince me there's nothing to see here -- and nothing to keep Hillary Clinton from reaching the White House.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.