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. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    Benghazi. Here, I'll say it again "Benghazi." Or, if you prefer, "What difference at this point does it make?"

    Accountability, Ms Clinton, accountability.

    February 5, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Fair is Fair

    I'd LOVE to see the results of a poll that asked this simple question – "Should Hillary Clinton choose NOT to run for the Democratic party nomination for president in 2016, who would you support?" – and no multiple choice to choose from. The results would be absolutely hilarious!!!

    February 5, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  3. Hector Slagg

    We have certainly had a slew of winners over the last 100 years, haven't we? A good Democrat we can believe in? How about one that believes in us. One that believes most of the people are more than capable of taking care of themselves. .

    February 5, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. Paul

    Who is favored in 2020? Can't wait to see what the polls are showing.

    February 5, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  5. zandhcats

    There should have more qualified Dem candidates than Ms Clinton, right? I'm not Clinton hater,but her multi-personalities which I don't trust. She's given 2 paid 6 figures closed door speeches to Goldman Sachs, while another open speech to a University(forgot the name) about income inequality which has been very appealing by the public recently. What is her real agenda?

    February 5, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Gurgyl

    @just saying–you didn't cry when USA is ruined by 16 years of Reagan Trickle-down nonsense GW Bush unfounded baseless the most idiotic wars while your Bin Laden in Pakistan which with Bush idiocy pulled 30 billion dollars yearly. Nonsense. Hillary16.

    February 5, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    If not Clinton, then Joe. I'd also recommend my senator, Sen. Warner, Gov. Rendell, Gov. Scweitzer or Gov. O'Malley.

    February 5, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Randy, San Francisco
    Democrats have the right messenger and message for 2016 in Hillary Clinton.

    She'll be a formidable campaigner AGAINST whomever the Republicans pick to run against her, should she run. She'll also be a formidable campaigner FOR whomever the Democratic party picks, should she not run.

    February 5, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Wake up People!
    Loved your response to freedom yesterday on the Republican "outreach" story.
    They shut it down before I got my two-cents in but you hit the highlights beautifully.
    As a Dominican woman of "color" they shouldn't even dream about getting my vote nor the Latino vote, no matter how much lip service they pay us.
    As you and others so eloquently pointed out yesterday, they have disrespected, demeaned, and tried their best to delegitimize THIS President to a degree never before, and God willing, never again seen.
    The GOP has no idea how deep an impact they and their terrorist arm- the Teatards- have had on the psyche of millions of Americans. We stood with our mouths agape at their racist and unwarranted boorish behaviour towards our President for four years....then we went and stood on line for HOURS to re-elect him
    The GOP foolishly fails to acknowledge that the re-election of Barack Hussein Obama had as much to do with the man as sending a clear message of REFUSAL to the GOP and what it stands for.
    When they come to terms with that fact, when they stop blocking our vote, when they stop giving people lip-service, when they stop the blatant racism.....oh forget it!
    We are not stupid, and we don't and won't forget.
    They are not getting our vote in this lifetime, and that's all there's to it.

    February 5, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. MVP

    When i look down the aisle of potential candidates, and i think who has the potential to not just win the next election, but to actually achieve something in office after they do win, there is but one person who has even the faintest hope. Hilary clinton i believe is the only person who could run, who even remotely stands a chance of getting congress to act and do something about this mess we are in.

    February 5, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. Keith ..... in Oregon

    Whichever candidate the Democrats choose will win until American voters, including Democrats, get tired of the government controlling or trying to control every aspect of thier lives. Eventually that will happen.

    Personally, if Mrs Clinton were the only name on the ballot I would write in the name of my neighbor's cat.

    February 5, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    I believe a disparity in wages is still a disparity in wages regardless of what the economic base is, Fair. I believe a better question might be what the Right intends to do about addressing the issue, as well as the issue of social mobility, other than subsidizing the wealthy with tax cuts they don't need. Since having a growing middle class has always been the key to American economic success, perhaps assisting them should be the priority, and not keeping the Sheldon Adelsons of the world happy.
    Fair enough. So I'll ask my original question. Short of punative taxation, what should the government do to address this?
    Since the right now defines any taxation of the wealthy as punitive and has become a non-starter, I'm not sure. Throwing people under the bus without providing them some sort of job training is irreponsible, but asking teh House to sponsor any meaningful initiaitves on this is a waste of time. Block granting the programs is nothing more than providing a slush fund for state governments to correct their budget mistakes, not to create menaingful programs to put people back to work: besides, the TP groups will destroy anyone who attempts to do it through primary challenges. You can't run programs without money, so where do you think the money should come from? Who has to sacrifice for the greater good, or is that concept dead in conservative circles, sacrificed on the alter of Libertarian/Conservative ideals?

    February 5, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  13. Greg

    Somebody I can differential from a Republican would be a good start.

    February 5, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. just asking

    just asking

    Randy, San Francisco
    Democrats have the right messenger and message for 2016 in Hillary Clinton.

    what is the message? elect hillary clinton because the democrats have far more to jam down the throats of the american people?

    February 5, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  15. ozzy3_97

    If she doesn't mention...Ending Free Trade...She's not the one...JMO...:(

    February 5, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. Thomas

    WMD's. Here, I'll say it again "WMD's" Or, if you prefer, "What difference at this point does it make?"

    Accountability, GW Bush accountability.

    February 5, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. conoclast

    Elizabeth Warren! If for no other reason, aren't we getting just a little weary of hearing the names Bush & Clinton in our presidential campaigns?

    Are we trying to install a royal family in the US?

    February 5, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. Mike

    The way things currently are going the Democrats would be wasting their time nominating any Democrat because they are about to get slaughtered!

    February 5, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  19. Tommy G

    Sorry Hillary, Obama is doing everything he can to totally poison the waters for any Democrat running in 2016. Obamacare, his lawlessness in trying to usurp the role of our elected representatives in Congress, his total incompetence in foreign affairs as well as economic matters here at home. By the time 2016 rolls around, 10 years of failed Democrat policies that have given us nothing but failure, record debt and record unemployment will mean any Democrat candidate will have to disavow themselves from all this failure, failure which she participated in for 4 years.

    February 5, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. darth's daughter

    I certainly not keen on Jeb Bush or Chris Christie!

    February 5, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. One Question

    Only ONE question for Hillary Clinton, "How could you so coldly and callously LIE to the face of the families of the Benghazi victims?" What difference does it make? A LOT!!

    February 5, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. Independent Voter

    I can't see myself voting for H. Clinton. The republicans would have to run someone completely unacceptable (i.e. Palin, Santorum) for me to vote for Clinton.

    Maybe the Libertarians will find a strong candidate to run.

    February 5, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. BK

    Folks like Tampa Tim can name-bash us conservatives all you want, it doesn't strengthen an argument for Hillary. She's been part of the LEAST transparent, least culpable, and simply the least honest administration in US history. These guys make Nixon look like Honest Abe. You HAVE to have someone better than Hillary in the stable...you just have to. I'm prepared to possibly lose another election, but not to her. At least find someone who says what they actually believe in and then stands up for it. I mean you could write a novel the length of War and Peace with all the times Obama has contradicted Obama, violated the basics of the Constitution, or lied, and Hillary just plodded along with all of it. And then there's Benghazi all by itself... At least push for someone younger who hasn't been implanted with all the cynicism and debauchery of politics yet. She is a worst case scenario.

    February 5, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. jimmyd1969

    I want a president that is more middle of the road, so Congress can get more work done. Hopefully we get more moderates in Congress as well.

    February 5, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. Silence DoGood

    Wait for it – Benghazi is the new Birth Certificate.
    Unless the completely out of touch ones start asking for HER birth certificate.
    Hopefully with the same impact if she runs.

    February 5, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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