Poll: If not Clinton, then what kind of Democrat?
February 5th, 2014
10:12 AM ET
11 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. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    @ Wake up People!
    Loved your response to freedom yesterday on the Republican "outreach" story.
    ----------

    As did I. I have tried to communicate this to her numerous times today. I do so hope this comment goes through because I really do feel she should be commended for what she wrote, as should you for your excellent comment as well.

    February 5, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. Tom

    If you look back to February of 2006, Barack Obama wasn't even on the radar screen as a potential Presidential candidate for 2008. It was supposed to be Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani. Neither won their party's nomination. Things can change in two years. Giuliani ran on 9/11 and tried to position himself as the best candidate to keep the country safe. Then the economy collapsed and domestic terrorism became a lesser issue. Giuliani had positioned himself as a single-issue candidate. What seemed like a solid campaign platform in 2006 turned out to be the wrong issue in 2008. That's why it's so ridiculous to be handicapping the 2016 Presidential election in 2014. Hillary might still emerge as the strongest Democratic candidate, but you can't predict the impact of future events which could change the dynamic of the election.

    February 5, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. a reader

    Benghazi? What about 9/11?

    February 5, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Jackson

    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.

    _______________

    Really?

    Were you demanding that Bush Jr be held accountable for his war crimes?
    Were you demanding that Reagan be held acccountable for committing High Treason in Iran/Contra?

    Or do you demand accountability only when it's against the other party?

    February 5, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. Boomer in Mo

    I've never been a Hillary fan. Hope some good candidates appear in the coming months.

    February 5, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. Jackson

    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.

    _____________

    Wow, what color is the sky in your world?

    The GOP is trying to legislate what a woman can do with her uterus, and who can and can't get married, but you accuse the Democrats of trying to control lives?

    You aren't even trying to be truthful, are you?

    February 5, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Indeed.
    Hillary showed her true mettle when she agreed to be our Sect'y of State under President Obama.
    It showed class, her committment to country and common cause.
    She put politics and ego aside, joined hands with the President and set about rebuilding what the previous administration had completely destroyed: our reputation and good will towards America around the world.
    She's earned my vote and she will have it if she runs.

    February 5, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Jackson

    Mike

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

    _____________

    Let me guess, your previous job was as a pollster for Romney, wasn't it?

    February 5, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.
    ************************
    Please Tommy, tell us what the GOP has offered as an alternative. Are you there, Tommy? Could it be that they have offered nothing that could even be remotely described as a solution? Tommy? Any thoughts, beyond the usual attack dog points? Come on, what have they offered that is not warmed-over Reagan/Bush solutions to everything, with an unhealthy dose of Libertarianism thrown in just to keep the whack-jobs happy?

    February 5, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. wildee7

    Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren

    February 5, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Jobu

    How about a democrat who believes – like TeaPublicans – that the best strategy was always, "Let them DIE!", and furthermore that the new patriotism isn't about America, but simply oneself???

    February 5, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Jackson

    Dan

    Elmer Fudd would be better than Obama....

    ______________

    That's not what the voters in 2012 decided. They kicked Elmer to the curb.

    February 5, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. JLXvsElvis

    If bengazi is her onlyt issue, she'll win easily. Clinton/Warren 2016 That's my vote.

    February 5, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. Tampa Tim

    O'Drama – Fortunately for Just, there are no longer literacy tests for him to vote.

    February 5, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. Silence DoGood

    @The Real Tom Paine
    -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.
    ************************
    Please Tommy, tell us what the GOP has offered as an alternative. Are you there, Tommy? Could it be that they have offered nothing that could even be remotely described as a solution? Tommy? Any thoughts, beyond the usual attack dog points? Come on, what have they offered that is not warmed-over Reagan/Bush solutions to everything, with an unhealthy dose of Libertarianism thrown in just to keep the whack-jobs happy?
    ---------
    "Tommy can you hear me?" – the Who

    February 5, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. PushingBack

    Elizabeth Warren. Hands down.

    February 5, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. Bill from GA

    The article mentions candidates to the right or to the left of Hillary. How would we know? Where does Hillary stand on issues?

    I believe I've heard she supports gay marriage, once 'everyone' else did. She probably backs the ultra-liberal view that all illegal immigrants be offered citizenship. And will probably do the same 7 or 8 years later when we have 20 million more.

    We know she gave George W. Bush the authority to invade another country, unprovoked, for whatever reason (lies) were offered at the time, Invading another country, unprovoked, doesn't work with my liberal side, not really.

    How does she feel about the 750,000 Americans arrested for marijuana, or is it too soon to weigh in on that, Hillary? Will she favor enforcing the laws restricting Wall Street? Fix the Farm Bill's support for millionaire 'farmers' who don't even live on the farm (many who are in Congress)?

    And does she have the guts, and the decency, to announce her plans soon, so others may enter the race if she parks her gigantic ego and stays out of the race?

    February 5, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. dave newman

    vote for some poor person that's had to rake and scape all there life instead some one that had every thing handed to the on a gold plate,

    February 5, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. conrad

    What about Bloomberg?

    February 5, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. just saying

    69 or 74 years old, what difference does it all make??!!!! hahahahaha... thanks for taking the bait!

    either way, hillary clinton and crazy joe biden will be certified dinosaurs with old stale progreesive ideas that have been proven a failure. been there done that with 8 years of obama.

    February 5, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    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?
    ------
    I guess my answer would be to leave it, as much as possible, to the private sector. But before you go off on me for that, let me give you a real-world example. My husband is an IT guy... has been since the early 1980's. He didn't go to school for IT – he was trained by the company he got the job with. In my opinion, THAT'S how the workforce should obtain job skills – real world, on-the-job training. Instead, the government opened the floodgates of cheap IT labor through the issuance of millions of H1-B visas, which in turn led to even cheaper offshore IT labor. Now, the graduates of one of the most promising 21st century college majors (computer science) are finding it next to impossible to enter the workforce. Of course, businesses are just as much to blame for allowing it to happen, but this is just one example of what happens when government, in a free-market economy, gets too cozy with business.

    February 5, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  22. Mara Tam

    At her age, after all she's done, why in the world would she want this headache? There are other things to accomplish, not this. Take a good break, Hillary. Enjoy.

    February 5, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. Harold Read

    Can't wait until after the November 2014 Democrat Purge, when Hillary:
    – totally backstabs Obama, stating that he was a failure and she is totally not like him
    – starts bragging about Bill's accomplishments as President as if they were her own
    – given empty and unclear promises on how she will fix ObamaCare

    Of course we have the alternative... Creepy Uncle Joe.

    February 5, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. Alan

    No more Clintons. No more Bushs.

    Let's elect someone who wants to help the country – not herself.

    February 5, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. stewart

    not her and not o'malley for md he screwed this state bad enough

    February 5, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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