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. Me


    That poll is hinting at exactly what I've been saying for a long time – at least 60% of the US electorate is solidly in the center politically, and is very unhappy that what are effectively the only two viable political parties have been overrun by the 20% extremists in each wing. If somone managed to run a sane, centrist, pro-choice and pro-gun candidate they would win by a true landslide, not the couple percent near ties of late.
    I 1000% agree with you!!!!! Do away with all political parties, run on your policies/views and your values alone! Until then we will have the same old same old no matter what party is in office.

    February 5, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Anybody but Hillary

    Count me as one liberal who can't stand Hillary the war-monger ... if she was president we'd still be in Iraq, we'd be in Afghanistan for years to come, we would have bombed Libya and Syria. She is a nut job. NO hillary no way no how

    February 5, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Keypinitreel

    If Hillary doesnt want to do it then we will just have to go with Warren.

    Elizabeth Warren is the next best choice in the Pipeline, she'd have to be drafted whether she wanted it or not.

    February 5, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. Me

    Wake up People!

    Donna, it's very hard to work with people that refuse to work with you. The GOP stated they would never do anything to help THIS POTUS, and they have been true to their word. I wish I could say more but as it stands this won't make it past the GOP mods.
    Wake, they have stated that and they shouldn't have in my opinion, but give me one policy/piece of legislation, just one (and be truthful), that the President has reached across the aisle on. I have asked this many times and not once have I had an honest response! Obama has stated he will not back down WAY more than the GOP in congress have, in fact I will name one that they did, the budget talks, they went from repeal to defund to delay, I would say that is compromise, Obama didn’t budge a centimeter (and he should have, Obamacare SHOULD have been delayed as we all saw after the horrible roll out)!

    February 5, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. Obama Broke

    To quote Hillary – What difference does it make now?

    February 5, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. wat

    Hillary is a crazy old woman.

    February 5, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. Johnjon

    Oprah.............. this country needs Oprah. "you get a car, you get a car, you get a car!"

    February 5, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Bill from GA

    Since many are putting in their choice, here's mine:

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    On the Sunday political talk shows, she shows toughness against conservatives and the moderators (when needed), she is smart and somewhat young.

    Being Jewish, she would help bring their vote (repugs couldn't say she is soft on Israel). Probably bring the Florida vote, also, unless she's running against Jeb.

    She has been a strong defender of the environment, as well.

    Maybe coming out of the House of Reps, she would need 4 years as VP, but I think she could hold her own as is.

    The Dems would do well to look to the future, not the past. And don't wait too long. (It would help if Hillary would get off the fence and declare, one way or the other, but what does Hillary care about except Hillary?)

    February 5, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. Crampon

    No more dims please, one more and the country is done, if it's not already too late.

    February 5, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  10. TheTruth

    Yeah, the only thing Debbie can't do is tell the truth.

    February 5, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. Smack Dab

    I think it should be that former comedian, Stuart Smalley, Allen Franken. Just what we need, another clown. He is just about as qualified to be President as Hillary.

    February 5, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. mom who actually made my own way

    What difference does it make?

    February 5, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. j007bond

    UnionRep9884 is right. BOTH parties need to run new, EXPERIENCED, people.

    February 5, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. jack bowie

    Hillary has experience but she is not likeable. We need someone who is tough but also likeable like Elizabeth W.

    February 5, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. timothy

    One thing we know for sure is we can't go back to Republicans in the White House. We are decades away from recovering from 2001-2009.

    February 5, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Bill from GA

    Since many are putting in their choice, here's mine:

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    On the Sunday political talk shows, she shows toughness against conservatives and the moderators (when needed), she is smart and somewhat young
    I love her Bill.
    She is refreshing, smart, energetic, has gumption.
    I do not, however, feel that she is quite ready for the presidency.
    But I do believe that the Dems would do well to groom her for that positon.
    Once Hillary breaks the glass ceiling someone like Ms. Schultz would would have an easier time of being elected.
    I thought maybe vp slot but quite frankly I don't think the country would go for TWO women at the helm at this time.
    I could be wrong of course.

    February 5, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. jack bowie

    The first female president has to have both, toughness and likeability.

    February 5, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. jack bowie

    I guess it is true for a male pres too.

    February 5, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. Herb

    If Elizabeth Warren decides to run for president tommorow. She'll get my time, contribution and most of all my Vote!

    February 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    Lynda Minnesota
    Until then .... ?
    Eat, pray, love....?!

    I was going more for "don't hold your breath waiting". She generally backs up whomever is polling as GOP flavor of the month.

    February 5, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. joe d.

    john kerry is going to be the next president !

    February 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. Koboldmom44

    Elizabeth Warren!!

    February 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  23. MCFx

    Hillary will be 69!! on the day of the 2016 presidential election? And in her 70's as president should she win? Really Democrats? How do you go from a young black cat with a great smile to Martha Stewart's MOM !???

    February 5, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  24. Ted Testerson

    I want to see Elizabeth Warren run.

    February 5, 2014 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  25. Roy

    Hillary is a power hungry old woman too old to be president sure hope we don't have to look at her for four years.

    February 5, 2014 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
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