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. jimmy

    the fact that Hillary and all usually-mentioned potential candidates...biden, cuomo, o'malley, warren, booker...are all from the northeast, is not very encouraging for dems. used to be the reps were geographically isolated but not any more. the dems need to find a candidate from the midwest, south or west that has at least some viability. just a strategic observation from someone who dislikes both parties, so it's bound to be a trustworthy opinion!

    February 5, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. John

    Hillary in 2016!!!!!!!!

    February 5, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. Silence DoGood

    @xray vision
    Just because the rwnj put a lot into benghazi, most people don't, selective outrage is playing politics, logical people don't buy it, want us to believe you care about the 4 lives lost in benghazi? Then show concern for the other 4600 that lost their lives, your pathetic. Listen to yourselves, only focused on the lives tied to a Democratic administration, shame on you.
    ---------
    Keep reminding the thinking folks without tin-foil hats: Benghazi is the new Birth Certificate.

    February 5, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. Name Uche Agonsi

    I like to live in America where the government takes care of my medical bills, water, energy, education.....leaving me to feed, cloth, and house myself. Thats when America will revive its attraction.......an eldorado on planet earth.

    February 5, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Josef F

    I've been a Democrat my entire life, but I won't vote for Hillary Clinton, should she become the nominee. Any Democrat who voted in favor of both the Iraq War and the Patriot Act forever loses the right to call themselves a Democrat, in my opinion.
    Elizabeth Warren, though? That's a far more interesting idea. And someone that the article completely failed to mention, of course.

    February 5, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. I don't get it

    Being an old timer and remembering back to the 80's I have a sense that we liberals are repeating history. Ted Kennedy lead in about every pre-election poll right up until he actually entered the race. We shouldn't be putting all our eggs in one basket so early. We already know that republicans will follow tradition and nominate their runner up from last year.. so the race will be Santorum vs a much more qualified democrat.

    February 5, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. dave

    Jobs are the #1 issue, under the jobs heading comes trade and supply side economics, along with amnesty, a lesser issue as it doesn't involve that many, they say about 11 million. Republican right wing extremists are about the same on trade/supply side as the moderate democrats like Hillary. Then you get down to the lesser issues, social issues, etc, that's where differences occur. Since candidates will be about the same on the #1 issue, the election becomes basically about nothing. You get bad trade deals, supply side economics, and more workers from an amnesty, no matter which way you go. So you go for the democrat nominee because, at least, they are better on the lesser issues, taking your chances on jobs. Essenially things remain about the same on the economy, jobs, etc., since elections can't be focused on major economic issues. You can't get a good progressive candidate because voters won't support someone who will give them good job thru a strong economy, they are more concerned about the lesser items, like gay rights, guns, God, the same 3 G'2 that have been the problem for years, even though these issues effect hardly anyone, while the economy effects millions. Elections are really big farces, about nonthing, primarily a big waste of time, since they don't involve anything. The 40% who don't vote may be doing the right thing. Maybe if it gets to around 100% not bothering to vote, they might think about changing something. I'll continue to vote, it's not that difficult, and I don't want another one of those right wing extremist in there, my family couldn't take another recession like the Bush/republican recession/depression, some still have hardly recovered from the losses, some of the losses will never be recovered. Even though I know that these politicians don't solve a damn thing, the consolation will be that I didn't vote for a right wing extremists, never have. Jobs, supply side economics, trade, are likely to be the #1 issue for many elections to come, perhaps never to be solved, it just ends the Country, the economy, the way of life. We go out with a whimper, never even coming close to fighting to save ourselves.

    February 5, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Carl Maki

    Elon Musk for president

    February 5, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Bob Bobbers

    ELIZABETH WARREN !!!!!!!!!

    Stop making this so difficult....

    February 5, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. NealR2000

    Hillary is the mainstream media's chosen one, and any potential challenenger, whether Dem or Rep, will be destroyed. Any Hillary "scandal", no matter how serious, will either be ignored or brushed off.

    February 5, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. jay field

    I'm tired of looking at her!

    February 5, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    She would never win the general election. This alone is a very good reason not to suppor her in the Democratic primaries. Have you all forgotten how the GOP went shoulder to shoulder against her in the 90's? And now they have even more to work with. They will rev up the hysteria and tear her apart.
    No – we really need someone who has something real to offer, not just "oh this is mine by inheritance" (as with the Bushes)....no – no – no.

    February 5, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. korkea aika

    Hillary for Prez, 2016. I've got my pen ready to send in my $100 just as soon as she announces she's running. Go Hillary Go!

    February 5, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Shecky

    Where did CNN get that photo of Hillary?
    It's gotta be at least 15 years old. She's about 50 pounds fatter now.

    February 5, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. David

    When one party rules too long, they become abusive then corrupt. Democrats have had the majority since 2007 and we have failed since. If democrats hadnt become Socialists, we wouldnt have been in such bad shape today.

    February 5, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Sherri5061

    Joe Manchin comes to mind.

    February 5, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. TONE

    @truth hurts reality bites- I see you failed to mention that the republicans voted against funding for all the embassies, they put politics infront of protecting American citizens. I keep wondering if the gop was involve with these terrorist to attack the embassy so that they can blame it on the democrats, and it backfired, but they keep harping on it even though they could not find anything.

    February 5, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. Mabel Schwartz

    Let's get over the Clinton/Bush thing, and vote for an Independent. It's time for meaningful change.

    February 5, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. Bill

    The most qualified democrat to run for president is not Hillary, I believe it would be Joe Biden. Now wait a minute here me out. He was the president of the Senate and had the opportunity to oversee how they argued, bickered, and got little done, except some pretty Kaotic end results. He can only vote in the event of a tie, to break a tie, and that never happened. So it was out of his control, other than to learn what went wrong, and that the only way to get anythihng done is with an overwelmingly democrat and republican Senate, Representatives, and House in the same party. And the real tough way is to get folks to negotiate, not take things personal, and compromise to make everyone satisfied.

    The other reason, is Joe has the smile of Kennedy, Reagan, and Bill Clinton and all three of those guys joked and got things done and warmed their way into the good graces of all parties.

    Lastly, no one will question his birth certificate or screwing up the economy. He obviously was US Born, a Veteran, and had nothing to do with screwing up the country. Think about it. I call him Mr Clean.

    The Republicans refuse to put a moderate into the white house like McCain, Colon Powell, or Huckleberry, They either run a rich son of a gun or a tea party nut. Between the Tea Party and the Hard Line Liberals of the Congress and Senate they have our country so screwed up that we now have same sex couples applying for Social Security as married people and legally Smoking Pot in many states and more illegal immigrants in the country than legal Americans who vote.

    February 5, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Mabel Schwartz

    Let's get over the Clinton/Bush thing, and vote for an Independent. It's time for meaningful change.
    -----------------------------–
    Independents are too frequently extremists of one flavor or another. They are usually indepedent because their positions were just far too extreme within their major party of choice.

    February 5, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Phil in KC

    First – I'm very surprised that a majority of the ABC (Anybody But Clinton) crowd would prefer someone to the right of Clinton. I don't consider Clinton to be all that liberal. That's not to say that a centrist candidate might not do better in the general election, but candidates don't get nominated by the general population. They are nominated by registered, voting members of their own party.
    Second – among the 'frequently mentioned alternatives', I did not see Elizabeth Warren. After Joe Biden, I see her mentioned the most.
    @daveinla – Clinton is NOT "ultra-liberal". Among the candidates 8 years ago, several other candidates were more liberal than her. In fact, I can't think of any who were to her right, except some 2nd tier candidates like Gravel or Bayh (or maybe Richardson).
    @Giuseppe – how is Clinton qualified? umm... J.D. from Yale Law School, Congressional Legal Council, partner at her law firm, 1st Lady, Senator from NY, Secretary of State. I'd call that pretty qualified.

    February 5, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. Dan

    Everybody has already crowned Hillary Queen of the ball the Dems need to have a moderate (are there any left?) that can get the votes of moderates (this country is center/right) They have had there grand experiment with left wing Obama now its time to come back to political sanity. Extremist politics (on the right and the left) is killing this country.

    February 5, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. truth hurts but reality bites

    TONE
    @truth hurts reality bites- I see you failed to mention that the republicans voted against funding for all the embassies,
    -–

    You also fail to mention that in testimony under oath, the State Dept. person in charge of the security stated this played no factor. Why do the lefties in here always throw this lie out there? They simply refuse to accept the fact that Hillary Clinton totally blew it before, during and after the Benghazi attack. All of the truth will eventually come out, just as it has done with Obamacare. You clowns can't lie forever and get away with it.

    February 5, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    She has no accomplishments

    February 5, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. Jm Gilbert

    Hillary can run on the premise of "What Does it matter now?"

    February 5, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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