Remember when we were all talking about Hillary Clinton’s “homebrew” email server? It seems like years ago, but it was actually just eight weeks ago and no one really cares any more. Of course it’ll come up again in Congress, since Clinton agreed to appear for questioning in yet another hearing on Benghazi. But other than conspiracy theorists and far-right talk radio hosts, everyone else is out of f*cks on this one.
And that’s probably why a new poll from The New York Times and CBS News shows Clinton’s numbers actually higher than they were before the whole homebrew email fracas began.
Americans now view Mrs. Clinton more favorably and more see her as a strong leader than they did earlier in the year, despite weeks of scrutiny about her ethics, a New York Times/CBS News poll has found. And nearly nine in 10 Democrats say the nation is ready to elect a woman president.
Whether voters are correct in having more confidence in Clinton is a different question, and indeed we’ve seen many recent examples of polls swinging upward in spite of bad news and swinging downward in spite of good news. For instance, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) jumped up to third place among GOP primary candidates following a disastrous week in which he announced he’d be signing up for Obamacare. Likewise, President Obama’s poll numbers seem to have stalled in the face of booming economic numbers and other successes.
So, it’s difficult to correlate the upswing in the polls to anything other than the fact that Clinton officially entered the race a few weeks after the email scandal. In the last eight weeks, Clinton’s “strong leader” numbers rose from 57 percent to 65 percent among all voters — not just Democrats. That’s a significant jump. Meanwhile, a plurality of Americans, 48 percent, believe she’s honest and trustworthy.
Whatever’s responsible for the bump, this is quite simply excellent news for Clinton and the Democrats, leaving plenty of room for erosion or even improvement.
Elsewhere, the NYT/CBS poll contained some disturbing results.
–75 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of former President George W. Bush.
–While 57 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, a narrow majority (51 percent) say that shop owners should be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.
–Breaking down the discrimination numbers shows that 57 percent of men, 69 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of conservatives, 73 percent of tea party members and, weirdly, 26 percent of liberals agree that bakeries and the like can discriminate against same-sex weddings.
–Meanwhile, 61 percent of Republicans still believe same-sex marriage should be illegal. That’s significant, and indicates that despite whatever the Supreme Court decides next month, we can expect more discriminatory laws passed in state legislatures — laws that don’t explicitly ban same-sex marriage, but which make it really difficult to have one. By the way, 28 percent of Democrats think same-sex marriage should be illegal. I guess some people are really, really slow on the uptake.
One other observation. 56 percent of voters prioritized being “outside Washington” over having D.C. experience. Of the candidate who have declared so far, only two can be generously defined as Washington outsiders: Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina (Jeb Bush, maybe, but there’s no greater “inside Washington” family than the Bushes), and neither have any chance at winning.
Here we go, folks. Let the 2016 poll watching begin. It only gets exponentially crazier from here.