Poll: If not Clinton, then what kind of Democrat?
February 5th, 2014
10:12 AM ET
9 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. darth's daughter

    I refuse on allowing another bush in the presidential office!

    February 5, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. Jake

    After the blatant lies and misdirection following Benghazi, the arrogant replies to questionings during what passed for an investigation... Her political credits due to her husband's good leadership are spent and she is deeply in the red.
    Support her as you will but you only insure the next President will be a Republican. That is almost assured by the incompetence and arrogance of our current POTUS.

    February 5, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. Jake

    She might as well write a book. She is done in politics.

    February 5, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. MightyMoo

    If not Hillary then Biden. I need my comedy fix

    February 5, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Belseth

    CNN has become a conservative rag. They are trying to say if Clinton does run the Democrats must pick a conservative Democrat. Okay the real numbers are the 70% who back her like her liberal leaning and 10% feel she's not liberal enough. That means 90% want a liberal Democrat. That's the truth!

    February 5, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. Wake up People!

    Well said Belseth!

    February 5, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Donna

    How well will Hillary Clinton be able to work with a Republican controlled House and a Republican controlled Senate? Will she be as horrendous as Obama has been? Will she play mini-dictator as Obama is trying to do? We never had to worry about this stuff until Obama and the far left Democrat Party started openly ignoring the Constitution. Now it has to be asked and answered.

    February 5, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. may40

    How about NONE!

    February 5, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. i'malib

    I hope Clinton runs and has Algore as VP. That way I don't have to buy a new bumper sticker for my Yugo.

    February 5, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Juanito

    You can have O Malley, but only if you like ALOT more taxes and blown budgets.

    February 5, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Steve Miller

    Tell me the truth about Whitewater, Vince Foster, and Benghazi before you get my vote...

    February 5, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. Meki60

    how bout Arnold Stang

    February 5, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Gurgyl

    No one cares about your BENGHAZI, just like no one gives darn hoot at monika. True. Hillary will win landslide just like Obama. True. America has more awareness than Reagan era.

    February 5, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    @Tampa Tim
    There were 13 embassy attacks and 50 deaths under Bush. The problem with Benghazzi, is that you wingnuts made it a political issue. Issa went on a witch hunt, and came up with nothing. We all grieve for these 4 Americans just like we grieve for the 4500 deaths of our soldiers in unnecessary wars, 45 thousand wounded, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.
    ---------
    Thanks TT for explaining it once again clearly. It was investigated by a clearly conservatively bias guy – he got nothin'.
    Benghazi will be the New Birth Certificate. And the tin foil hat conspiracy folks will look just as crazy this time around.

    February 5, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Tampa Tim

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

    February 5, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. longhauler

    any of them would be better than her

    February 5, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda Minnesota
    Until then .... ?
    -------------------------------------------------
    Eat, pray, love....?!

    February 5, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. xray vision

    Tommy G, wow indeed. I need a good laugh: suppose you tell me why your not outraged about 4600 soldiers dying for the bush war, go slow, I'm a democrat you know.

    February 5, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.

    *********************
    I prefer private-sector solutions, but leaving the private sector totally unregulated is a recipe for disaster. I agree that a balance needs to exist, and we can disagree as to what degree that should be, but no one with an ounce of sanity really feels that the private sector is capable of doing things that are in teh public's interest as opposed to their own. Albert Gallatin, the longest serving Treasury secretary in our history, said that government was the only vehicle capable of doing large-scale infrastructure, and he said this in the early 1800s. Someone need to step in and tell them what to do to keep the business world from destroying itself, because industries cannot be trusted to act in the public's interest,period.

    February 5, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. xray vision

    Tommy G, please explain the lack of outrage over 4600 dead soldiers in bush war, go slow, I'm a democrat

    February 5, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Bob Thompson

    Democrats are actually looking for a candidate who is more conservative than she is, not more liberal....does anybody else recognize just how far RIGHT this government has become over the last 50 years or so!? Reagan would be too liberal today to be considered a member of the democratic party! For real! Republicans are so splintered they need 4 responses to the SOTU address because the standard response wasn't conservative enough, wasn't tea party enough, pandered only to English speakers, wasn't pro-women enough. Look at where the American politic parties TODAY fall on the world's political spectrum....

    February 5, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. bs1

    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.

    February 5, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. Renee

    I'm all for Mark Warner, I think he will be a great candidate.

    February 5, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. 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.

    February 5, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. SamT

    How about Maryland's Governor, Comrade Martin O'Malley? O'Malley has some classic socialist thought processes regarding education. After helping to privatize major universities in Maryland, Comrade O'Malley commented that the solution to high tuition costs is online universities. Regarding the State's budget, instead of fiscally responsible cost-cutting measures, his plan is to raise already exorbitant toll fees 200%. Chasing away Beretta, the gun manufacturer, because guns are evil, yet mob-controlled casinos (of which Maryland has 4 and 2 under construction) are encouraged to operate. Wasn't all that casino money & taxes supposed to go to improving schools? Electric rates have risen 50+% since he's been in office. A plan for a 3% hike in the gas tax (aren't we in a recession?). Ah, socialism! Where the few elitists benefit by crushing the citizens with taxes (er, I'm sorry, they're called "fees").

    February 5, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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