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For all the conventional reasons, I’ve been bullish about Republican chances in 2016: Democratic policies are unpopular; President Obama’s not running; It’s been eight years; We’ve got a strong bench; and everyone’s tired of Hillary Clinton. Stipulating that it’s generally not a good idea to put much stock into a single poll — let alone one this early into the cycle — this piece from the WSJ has me re-evaluating:
The number of people who are unsatisfied with [Clinton’s] response to questions on the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound dropped to 38% in the poll, from 44% in a poll taken before she testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Oct. 22. The new poll found Republicans’ opinion remained largely unchanged, but among Democrats and swing voters, there was a significant rise in satisfaction with Mrs. Clinton’s response.
…In the Journal/NBC poll taken before the House hearing, 27% said they were satisfied with Mrs. Clinton’s response to questions about the attack, and 44% said they were not satisfied, with Republicans far more likely than Democrats to be unsatisfied.
The new poll conducted after the House hearing found the share of Democratic primary voters who were satisfied with Mrs. Clinton’s response rose to 72%, from 58%. The impact was not just among diehard partisans: Among people identified as swing voters, satisfaction jumped to 23% from 6%, while dissatisfaction dropped from 84% to 40%.
Bear in mind, this is a hearing that featured the revelation that — on the night of the attack — Clinton told her daughter a different story than the one she would tell the American people the following day, confirming the suspicion that the administration tried to hide news of an Islamist attack by rolling what happened in Benghazi into what had happened in Egypt earlier that day. This happened, of course, over her private server and resulted in the jailing of the video maker. And people think she came off well.
The ultimate blame for this, I think, falls on Republican House members: Kevin McCarthy poisoned the well in his comments last month and the committee members buried the lede under hours of tedium and grandstanding. And Clinton — for all she lacks her husband’s natural skill — is a strong player.
We need to get better at this. There’s time, but this is painful.Published in