Search This Blog

Thursday, May 14, 2015

JVL: Why are Hillary Clinton's numbers so good?

For a better read, view this email in your browser. top_twitter.png spacer_extend.gif top_facebook.png
May 14, 2015
No. 171
By Jonathan V. Last

Quick: When was the last time Hillary Clinton had a "good" week? I don't remember either.

spacer advert header.jpg
spacer TWS House Ad
spacer spacer

The last big media stories about Clinton have been:

(1) She runs a shady foundation that burns a lot of money and doesn't do much real-world good.

(2) She had exchanges that looked like pay-for-play while acting as secretary of state.

(3) Because of these problems, she's been ducking the media like crazy.

(4) And don't forget there's that private email server that she shouldn't have been running that would have totally exonerated her about everything if she hadn't nuked it.

As Jack Reacher would say, not good.

And yet, in the face of what has been three solid months of bad news, Clinton's poll numbers aren't bad. Not bad at all.

Among Iowa Democrats, for instance, she's in basically the same place she was in late February: 60 percent support today compared to 61 percent back then. Nationally, things aren't quite as good. A New York Times poll last week showed her favorability numbers holding reasonably steady_35 favorable/36 unfavorable, compared to 37/26 in March.

What interests me most is what's going on underneath the top-line numbers. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked respondents several questions about Clinton's character. The number most people paid attention to was "honest and straightforward"-where only 25 percent of respondents said they believed she was honest (versus 50 percent who said she wasn't).

That sounds pretty grim and Nixonian. But here's the thing: A couple questions before that, people were asked if Clinton was "effective" at "getting things done"-here the split was 44-34 in her favor. Is she "easygoing and likable"? People said yes by a margin of 41-37. The craziest response: Does she "have high moral standards that set the proper moral tone for the country?" Forty-three percent say yes versus only 39 percent who say no.

Think about that for a minute. By a margin of -25 points, people say they don't trust Hillary Clinton, but by a margin of +4 points they say she has "high moral standards."

There are only two possible conclusions from this: Either (1) Voters are idiots. Or (2) As a political commodity, Hillary Clinton's appeal is based on something other than trustworthiness.

Whichever the case, the big lesson from the last few months is that it will be very difficult for a Republican to beat Hillary Clinton by getting voters to turn against her. The Clinton cake is so thoroughly baked that there's no new evidence that's going to make people decide that suddenly, after 20 years, the scales have fallen from their eyes and they realize she's something other than what they think she is.

Instead, the Republican nominee is going to have to make a positive case for something better. It won't be enough to try to disqualify Clinton. He or she is going to have to offer a more attractive alternative vision.

(And whatever you do, don't think too hard about the fact that one out of every four Americans still thinks Clinton is "honest" and "straightforward." It's just too depressing.)


"From his prison cell, Timothy McVeigh has made a final attempt to convince America to share his vision of himself. He granted Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, reporters for the Buffalo News, over seventy-five hours of exclusive interviews, and the result _ American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City Bombing _ is a sympathetic account of McVeigh as intelligent, charismatic, and even sexy. It's an astonishingly gentle treatment for the man who committed the bloodiest act of terrorism in American history, and it raises the question of whether the book actually reveals anything that might help us understand him. The answer, as it turns out, is no _ save for the fact that McVeigh is even more appallingly self-satisfied than anyone imagined. In his interviews with Michel and Herbeck, McVeigh does admit, for the first time, that he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. But he also poses as a committed, idealistic martyr who sacrificed himself for a greater good. It should be needless to say that this bears little resemblance to the actual Tim McVeigh _ McVeigh as I came to know him during the thirty months I served as a federal prosecutor on the Oklahoma City bombing task force."

_Aitan Goelman, "The Banality of McVeigh," from our May 14, 2001, issue.

Remember you get full access to THE WEEKLY STANDARD archive when you subscribe.
Victims Triumphant
Hillary as the "underdog."
A Taxing Issue.
Inside the GOP divide.

Trying to solve a 40-year-old cold case in Georgia.


What it's like to drive for Uber.


Our interstellar neighborhood. (This is a visual thing, and it takes a while to load, but it's fantastic.)


"On Fox the other day, Bill O'Reilly was hopelessly confused about this issue. He seems to think that Pam Geller's cartoon competitions will lessen the likelihood of moderate Muslims joining us in the fight against ISIS. Putting aside the fact that there is no fight against ISIS, and insofar as the many Muslim countries in the vast swollen non-existent '60-nation coalition' are going to rouse themselves to join the fight it will be because the Saudi and Jordanian monarchies and the Egyptian military understand it as an existential threat to them, put aside all that and understand that Islamic imperialism has a good-cop-bad-cop game_ or hard jihad, soft jihad. The hard jihad is fought via bombings and beheadings and burnings over barren bits of desert and jungle and cave country in the Middle East, Africa and the Hindu Kush. The soft jihad is a suppler enemy fighting for rather more valuable real estate in Europe, Australia and North America, so it uses western shibboleths of 'diversity' and 'multiculturalism' to enfeeble those societies. And it does so very effectively_ so that when a British soldier is hacked to death on a London street in broad daylight, you can't really quite articulate what's wrong with it; or that, upon the death of the ugly king of a state where Christianity is prohibited, the Christian ministers of Westminster Abbey mourn his passing; or that, when Australians are held siege in a Sydney coffee shop, the reflexive response of progressive persons is to launch a social-media campaign offering to battle Islamophobia by helping Muslims get to work; or that, when violent Muslims stage their first explicit anti-free-speech attack on American soil, everyone thinks the mouthy free-speech broad is the problem. This soft jihad goes on every day of the week, and Bill O'Reilly doesn't even seem to be aware that it exists."

_Mark Steyn on freedom, the West, and Islam, May 9, 2015


As always, I like to leave you with something happy. This week, I've been reading Kirsten Powers' new book The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech. And it's fantastic.

Powers is a liberal Democrat-she cut her teeth in the Clinton administration-but I've been a fan of hers for years because she's a truly brave writer. She calls it like she sees it with no regard for the cost she'll incur from her own side. For instance, she was the only mainstream writer to fixate on the horrors of Kermit Gosnell's infanticide mill and she forced the rest of the media to finally grapple with the story. Because while the bien pensant media could ignore conservatives who were on the Gosnell case, they couldn't ignore a liberal who was ringing the alarm. 

That was incredibly brave. Liberal journalists like to pat themselves on the back for their bravery all the time-as if a writer for the New York Times is going to do anything but help themselves by coming out for "transgender rights" or whatever the elite fad of the day is.

In 2013, Powers did something really brave: She came out as a Christian in the pages of Christianity Today. And not only did she cop to being down with Jesus, she wrote a beautiful, magisterial essay about her conversion that's easily one of my favorite pieces of witness, ever. I can't recommend it enough.

Now Powers has written a powerful book taking progressives to task for their campaign against free speech and classical liberal values. You can get a taste of it here and here.

I can't overstate how important it is to have Powers' voice defending classical liberalism. Because she's smart, she's fearless, and she can't be dismissed out of hand by the progressive mandarins.

And if her new book creates space for other liberals to rally against the illiberalism which now dominates progressive politics, then Powers will have made an enormous contribution to the public good.

Let's keep our fingers crossed.


P.S. To unsubscribe, click here. I won't take it personally.
Bill Clinton Won't Stay Quiet
Despite what Hillary and her partisans might want.
Let China be Free
Time to overhaul our Asia strategy.
Mass Graves in Cambodia
Remembering the horrors of the Khmer Rouge.
Online Store
Squeeze the head to the left to relieve stress. Yes you can! Only at our store.
Subscribe Today
Get the magazine that The Economist has called "a wry observer of the American scene."
Read probing editorials and unconventional analysis from political writers with a
dose of political humor at
bottom_facebook bottom_twitter
To unsubscribe, click here.
the weekly Standard

No comments: