A couple new polls show some big developments in the NH race. Of course, these are only two polls (one of which is from a not great outfit) so everything can be taken with giant heaps of salt. These polls are newsworthy for some other reasons beyond the numbers, though.
One poll from American Research Group shows Kasich (yes, that’s right) in second place in NH with 20%, compared to Trump’s 27%. Kasich hasn’t received basically any news, so this poll may be wrong – BUT it is news itself and may help his standing by getting some coverage when everyone else is just talking about Trump (and Cruz, at least in Iowa).
The other poll, from UNH, shows Sanders with a 27-point lead in NH. Again, that may be a complete outlier, but UNH isn’t terrible and it shows significant changes from their earlier poll showing a 10-point gap. That the race is close in the first two states or that Sanders is strong in NH is not so much news. The news, I think, is how the Clinton campaign responded:
For their part, Clinton’s campaign released a statement after the poll titled, “Hillary for America Statement on Republicans Aiding Sanders Candidacy.”
“While Senator Sanders tries to make a case on electability based on meaningless polls, Republicans and their super PACs have made clear the candidate they’re actually afraid to face,” said Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri. “The Sanders argument falls apart when the GOP spokesman is trying to help him and the Republicans run ads trying to stop Hillary Clinton in the primary.”
Admittedly, this isn’t that negative, but it seems wholly unnecessary. It also fits with how the Clinton campaign seems to be moving, with a negative focus on Sanders and fear-mongering about a Republican win.
You can really see this in Clinton’s press secretary’s (who I graduated high school with) twitter feed, which is almost entirely negative Sanders material.
There are a couple ways to draw distinctions in politics. One is more along the lines of “We disagree with Sanders and here’s why he’s wrong and we’re right” and the other is “Sanders is an idiot on this issue.” When you go with the latter, what you are also saying is that people who support Sanders are idiots. The Clinton campaign seems to be going with that route. (I admit, I could be overly sensitive on this as a Sanders supporter, but if that’s how I am reading it, I’m probably not alone.)
The problem is that it doesn’t seem to working because Sanders momentum has not slowed (nor have his negatives risen) and much more dangerously, it could be sowing the seeds of a backlash. Her campaign could be on their way to completely alienating the support Sanders’ campaign has built.
Hillary Clinton is one of the most experienced people to ever run for the office and she has loads of skills and experience that her primary opponents, and certainly her potential Republican opponents, do not have. She doesn’t need this and should be doing better.
But, it’s the big leagues and this is hardball, so there’s that. But does the campaign have the stuff to get it done for November?
They’ve blown an absolutely enormous lead to a little known socialist senator and now when it’s close they are resorting to negative (and often disingenuous) campaigning, which both is not working and may have medium/long-term consequences. I’m worried.