Poll: If not Clinton, then what kind of Democrat?
February 5th, 2014
10:12 AM ET
10 months ago

Poll: If not Clinton, then what kind of Democrat?

Washington (CNN) - It may be the least hyped but most surprising number in a new CNN/ORC International poll on the next race for the White House.

According to the survey, 70% of Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say they'd be likely to support Hillary Clinton as their party's nominee.

No surprise there. Just about every national poll conducted over the past year has indicated the exact same thing: If the former Secretary of State decides to launch a second bid for the White House, she'd instantly become the overwhelming front runner in the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

But here's the interesting part: Of those who say they wouldn't back Clinton, 15% say they'd be more likely to support a more conservative Democrat, with 10% saying they'd be more likely to back a more liberal candidate. The national poll was conducted this past weekend.

The slight five point margin in favor of a more conservative Democrat may suggest that Clinton, if she launches a campaign, might want to pay more attention to a possible threat from the center. That would defy the conventional wisdom that Clinton's biggest threat would be from the left.

"The poll suggests that a majority of the anybody-but-Clinton Democrats are actually looking for a candidate who is more conservative than she is, not more liberal.  Some progressive leaders have been trying to entice someone into the race to run to the left of Clinton, but maybe rank and file Democrats would respond more favorably to a candidate who runs to the right of her, at least within the confines of standard Democratic Party ideology," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

What's also interesting is the reluctance of some Democratic strategists and analysts contacted by CNN to game the 2016 Democratic field, discuss hypotheticals situations, and react to the numbers from the CNN survey.

While the poll numbers suggest that slightly more Democratic voters who are not supportive Clinton would likely back a more conservative alternative rather than a more liberal option, some of the other frequently mentioned potential contenders include politicians who are slightly more to the left of Clinton, such as Vice President Joe Biden, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

CNN Crossfire co-host Stephanie Cutter, a veteran Democratic communications strategist and the deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election bid, cautioned that there are a couple of things to consider.

"First, it is way too early to be deciding who is in the left, right and center of the party in 2016, and second, voters base their vote on the totality of who is in the race, and we just don't know that right now.  Fifteen percent may want a more conservative Democratic nominee today, but where they are two years from now based on who else is in the race is 100% undecided," Cutter said.

soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. Merv

    5% difference is not very statistically significant. It doesn't even represent anything meaningful to a political campaign. Does "15% prefer more conservative over 10% prefer more liberal" in a CNN poll 2-1/2 years before the vote means anything to anybody anywhere??? This is a waste of bandwidth.

    February 5, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. markcolwell

    If they are to the right of Elizabeth Warren, they are to far to the right.

    February 5, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Brian

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY

    February 5, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. ohioan

    President Bernie Sanders & Vice President Elizabeth Warren

    February 5, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. YOLO

    Not very excited about Hillary. It almost feels like people are just voting for her name. If she was Hillary Jones, I seriously doubt she'd even be mentioned in the conversation. We need a moderate Democrat or a moderate Republican to win this election. Someone who can work with Congress. If Hillary is elected it will be more of the same that we have now because the Republican Congress is not going away anytime soon.

    February 5, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Bob Johnson

    Anyone but.

    February 5, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  7. jVEW2012

    Hillary Clinton – Elizabeth Warren 2016!

    February 5, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. John

    10% said they want someone MORE liberal than Hillary...who in the world would fit that description that is a viable, qualified candidate?

    February 5, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Alex

    The Democrat who I think would make an excellent president but unfortunately he never makes it past New Hampshire is Gov Bill Richardson

    February 5, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. jaCK

    President Pee Wee Herman and Vice President Captain Crunch

    February 5, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. Zwei Stein

    Elizabeth Warren.

    February 5, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Sal

    The republicans need to get rid of the extreme right wing tea party politicians to have any chance of winning the next election in 2016. 

    February 5, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  13. VEW2012

    There is no such thing as an independent. That is just another title for a right wing Tea Party candidate...to which I say "no way".

    February 5, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. Mike Trottier

    I definitely want a democrat. Republicans do not deserve the White House,.....or any House for that matter.

    February 5, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  15. torchytodd

    I'd be okay with Elizabeth Warren, and I'm definitely in the "anyone but Hillary" camp. I don't think she'd make a good president, but I think she'd win so long as the GOP continues to pander to the extreme right.

    February 5, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Herb

    Elizabeth Warren has already my vote. Elizabeth2016

    February 5, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  17. C. T. Gragg

    I do not want Hilary Clinton to run and do not want to vote for her. I wish a younger democrat would run.. why or why do all these candidates have to be soooo old. The presidency is a stressful job and I kind of like the idea of at least some in the 50's getting the nomination... Is this party as bad as the GOP about wait your turn... be bold, do something different, bring in new blood.

    February 5, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. Bosda

    I have supported the Democratic Party for many, many years, and I don't want Hilary.
    1) The Bush/Clinton control of the White House has gone on too long.
    2) I challenge her ability. She seems more gasbag than leader.

    February 5, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. Barbara

    I will not vote for Hillary or Elizabeth Warren. I'm from MA and Warren Sucks.

    February 5, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. pat thompson

    I would love to see Condoleeza Rice take down any of these democratic hopefuls in a presidential election.

    February 5, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. jay joyner

    whats to moderate i thought cnn was fair and balanced,or are you guys one sided

    February 5, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    pat thompson

    I would love to see Condoleeza Rice take down any of these democratic hopefuls in a presidential election.
    ------
    She would be my choice.

    February 5, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. Me

    Silence DoGood

    @Liz "Benghazi is a NON-ISSUE, tell that to the victims families. "
    --–
    OK – I guess we need to speak slowly for some folks. I, as a liberal and possible Ms.Clinton supporter, feel that Ms.Clinton's responsibility for the sad event happening is a non-issue. Even her imagined lying was supposed to have happened after the event. It is not like Bush lying to send 1000's of people to their death. You must be very outraged about that!

    Benghazi – the new Birth Certificate.
    __________________
    Bush WMD – the liberal Birth Certificate.
    FIFY

    February 5, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  24. Mary1972

    None of the above. We need someone new, fiscal conservative and social liberal. Hilary or Warren don't fit the bill.

    February 5, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  25. JM

    President Colin Powell

    February 5, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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