Poll: If not Clinton, then what kind of Democrat?
February 5th, 2014
10:12 AM ET
4 years 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. sftommy

    No, no, we want the Koch's brothers and Adelson's in the GOP to spend their billions and their followers vile energies attacking the wrong candidate. Then once it's all wasted we step up with another candidate, but not too soon! Save it till the convention!

    February 5, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. mars7578

    We would love to have the first female president. This type of thinking led to the election of Obama. Looking back , he never demonstrated any conviction to advance the basic democratic economic agenda. He had both houses of Congress and he basically ignored the democrats and followed his own ideals. Mrs. Clinton maybe an effective leader but she need to speak up and let people know what she is willing to fight for. Mr Obama knows how to say all the right things but his results are way to diluted. I prefer a fighter like Sen.Warren who is displays conviction. P.S. There are other good democrats but are afraid to address their concerns because they would not viewed as team players.

    February 5, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. N H

    I think Hillary has the capability to encourage bipartisanship among Democrats and Republicans. She needs to run as a moderate liberal, but if she does that she would secure the woman's vote, the minority vote, plus many independents and even some left-wing republicans might support her bid. That would require ignoring the extreme left, but as Obama found going to that extreme only results in a reactionary wave in the form of Tea Party Republicans, and the last thing this country needs is more of those. In order to get the government back on track and functioning, we need a moderate President from either side who can talk with the leaders and negotiate. Obama demands and does not compromise, and that resulted in his downfall and the failure of Congress. There are times to be firm, but not now when Republicans enjoy a solid majority in the House and a good representation in the Senate.

    February 5, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Bob

    How about "no kind of Democrat". You know, something that would actually be good for America?

    February 5, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Elizabeth Warren 2016

    February 5, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. sly

    "10% said they want someone MORE liberal than Hillary...who in the world would fit that description that is a viable, qualified candidate?"
    Not sure, but Hillary, Bill and President Obama are moderate democrats. On a 1-100 scale, with 1 being liberal, and 100 being conservative, I place all three at about the 40% mark. Slightly left of center. Conversly, Bush was only about 65% on the scale – conservative, but rather moderate as well.

    I hope we can eventually find a real liberal candidate, but given that Americans are primarily conservative and not very progressive, I'm thinking Clinton/Obama/Bush actually represent most Americans. Sad .. but true.

    February 5, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Tony

    Someone like Mark Warner (likeable, normal person) would win in a landslide.

    February 5, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. lord Kubota

    Total fraud.

    February 5, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. vet in tx

    elections are all about winning and beating the opposition, the republicans have no viable candidate who can win nationally (see Romney), Santorum was the previous runner up so he will get the nomination, since the beginning of this administration they have purged themselves of logic, and just went for a money grab amongst their own people, knowing full and well they can't win, but have to give their party hopes in order to get donations. They will always have high power donors, but they must keep swaying the lower class (realistically speaking, not being rude) voters and keep them fed with high doses of consistant, "this is what they are doing" rhetoric, because they will still choose not to look at facts and only keep repeating what the Red media pushes. If you can't get them to say how horrible Bush was without blaming 911 on Clinton, the housing crisis on Frank and Dodd, and not blaming their party for anything, then it won't matter. I want one conservative on this post to acknowledge that the "Obamaphone" was the Reagan phone (changed to cell phones with W and hasn't been altered at all by Obama), that Ford actually received a bailout (2 lines of credit for 16 billion), and that W was completely incompetent, then they can start to actually have a chance for national office. The alternative for them is to keep buying books, cold, bottles of tea, email addresses and computer security, and wonder what happen.

    February 5, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Sandra

    I'm voting for Hillary. Period.

    February 5, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Anastasia Beaverhausen

    The first black and first woman president will both be Democrats. Hillary 2016!

    February 5, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. jack bowie

    Elizabeth Warren.

    February 5, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. navaJohn

    I'd like to see John Kerry run again. Especially if Hillary doesn't run.

    February 5, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. John

    I don't think you get it, CNN. We want to concentrate on GOVERNING, and not the 24/7 news hype about hypothetical nonsense that doesn't matter for several more years. Why not dig into REAL news and stop trying to make up news? This isn't news and few care about your predictions for the far future...COVER REAL NEWS!!

    February 5, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. mike from iowa

    Elizabeth Warren 2016
    Elizabeth Warren 2016
    Elizabeth Warren 2016
    Elizabeth Warren 2016

    February 5, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. Somebody that is on our side. That won't kill us.

    Probably someone like Elizabeth Warrens. (or Maude Barlow, except she's Canadian...and we really should have president from this country. Preferrably a couple of generations into this country)

    February 5, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Bea

    Hillary is my choice, regardless of who else is in the running.

    February 5, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. OldSchool

    Elizabeth Warren! We need someone who has clearly demonstrated that their primary concern is their constituents and the average American.

    February 5, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. j007bond

    As an Independent, I doubt that any other Democrat who is STILL on the front lines of government, and is thinking about running, is just going to lay down and let some former, stressed out (I need a four year nap) Sec. of State, just waltz on in. And as far as the first black, and first woman presidents go, it's obvious desperation for bragging rights means more than quality!!!!!

    February 5, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. TX JIM

    There is no one else but Hillary Clinton for me.. I may be more loyal to her than Bill...

    February 5, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. Me

    Tampa Tim

    I am tired of the arrogance and lawlessness of the GOP and their media outlet, Fox.
    I am tired of the arrogance and lawlessness of Dems and their media outlet, MSNBC.


    February 5, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  22. MJ

    Are you paying attention to the chaos in Russia? America is well on its way to being in the same situation in a very short time.

    February 5, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. AwakeInMpls

    Dont worry Ma'am, we'll get the guy that made the anti-muslim video that caused the demonstration that caused your son's death. – Sept 14, 2012 Hillary Clinton to the mother of Benghazi Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith at his funeral. Like Mama always said, eventually the Lies always catch up with you.

    February 5, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. UnionRep9884

    That's no way to pick a candidate. Pick Hillary, she's the only one! Give me a break. There are dozens qualified – lets not pick someone with a ton of baggage. I'm a lifelong Democrat and even I don't trust her. If she gets the nomination I can honestly say I might not vote in the general election for the first time since I started voting. I've had enough of both the Clinton's and Bush's. For goodness sakes people, lets move on. We can do better than these two families. Sheesh.

    February 5, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. Ned Day

    Anyone who thinks someone like Elizabeth Warren can possibly be elected after Barack Obama is nuts. That's the equivalent scenario of having elected Barry Goldwater president in 1964 and then when he was done electing someone further to the right.

    February 5, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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