The year 2016 seems distant to many, but for those with their eyes on the big white house on Pennsylvania Ave. it is right around the corner. Just like potential candidates, 2016 seems like it is only a heart beat away to the people who cover the most exalted of all blood sports, American presidential campaigns. Yes, this year's November vote is only a little more than three months off and interest is keen, especially when it comes to the next make up of the senate. The difference being, covering mid term elections is rather like sitting around watching batting practice, compared to a presidential election which is akin to witnessing a seven game world series drama.
Everyone loves to focus on Iowa and New Hampshire because they are the first live fire tests for potential candidates. That's why NBC and the Marist people just published a poll of voters in those two states.
The results aren't really a surprise, especially on the democratic side. In Iowa 89% of democrats view Hillary Rodham Clinton favorably and in New Hampshire 94% of them do. If you are a fan of Jumping Joe Biden you are in for a long night in both places. When pitted against each other, Iowa democrats chose Clinton over Biden 70% to 20%. In New Hampshire it actually got worse for the vice president--Mrs. Clinton blew past him by a 74% to 18% margin.
The truth is if you were going to donate money to the Biden presidential campaign you might want to rethink your investment and go with something that has better odds, like the Power Ball Lottery. It is safe to say the democratic nomination is sitting firmly in Mrs. Clinton's lap. All she has to do at this point is say she wants it.
For the GOP things are far more muddled. NBC and Marist threw ten names at republican voters and the big winner in both states was a guy named, Undecided. In Iowa he pulled in 20% of those asked. His closest competitors were Jeb Bush and Rand Paul both with 12%. New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, who will be visiting Iowa shortly, was mired in 5th place with 8%. Currently he is running four points behind Paul Ryan, one behind Rick Santorum, and one point ahead of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rick Perry.
In New Hampshire the Undecided campaign is in full swing. He leads Rand Paul 22% to 14%. Governor Christie is playing better in the Granite State, coming in at 13% which is three points better than Jeb Bush and four points ahead of Ted Cruz.
There are few more things that can be gleaned from the available figures. One is Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal should plan on staying in Baton Rouge. He was sitting at 4% in New Hampshire and a mere 1% in Iowa. A second is, outside of Texas, Ted Cruz's smarmy smile and monumental ego don't exactly fire up the republican base. In Iowa he was at 7% and his New Hampshire number was 9%. Those are hardly inspiring figures.
The third thing we learned is while Mrs. Clinton won't have to spend a dime during the primary season, she'll need a lot of them when it comes to the general election, at least in Iowa and New Hampshire. When all the potential voters were asked about specific republicans in a race against the former Secretary of State things got tight. In Iowa she was in a dead heat against Rand Paul and her leads against Christie and Bush were within the four and a half point margin of error. The only persons she had comfortable leads on were Cruz, and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.
In New Hampshire Paul was within three points of her and she led Christie, Bush, and Rubio by only five points.
For Hillary Clinton the downsides are, among swing voters, there could be a lingering weariness of the Clinton name and Barack Obama certainly isn't doing her any favors. In fact the only time the party of an outgoing president has held on to the white house in recent history is when George H.W. Bush followed Ronald Reagan into the oval office. However, on the upside, especially among democrats, huge numbers will tell you, if he could run, they'd vote for ol' Wild Bill in a nano second--they are looking at her and figuring they're a getting, what we call on the southern plains, a two-fer.
There will be a lot more polls between now and 2016 so numbers will shift dramatically on the GOP side. If we've learned anything lately its when you put republicans in a primary debate many of them will immediately prove themselves to be abject fools. That and there is a huge block of tea party cranks who would rather fall on their swords than vote for a GOP candidate they decide is impure.
As they say, stay tuned. We're just getting warmed up.