Sometimes we take polls too seriously and other times we take them too lightly. One only has to look back on the manic behavior displayed by Dick Morris and Karl Rove prior to the 2012 presidential election to see both ends of the spectrum. Those two chumps were absolutely positive of their own numbers and utterly dismissive of polls conducted by others. In Rove's case the psychosis was so acute he went off the deep end on live TV as the final nail was hammered into Mitt Romney's political coffin.
With that in mind any analysis of the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll should be taken with more than just a grain of salt. After all the real blood letting of the primary season is still a year off.
The short version is Hillary Rodham Clinton took a hit. Her unfavorable rating rose from 36% to 42% and her favorable rating dropped two points to the exact same figure. In addition the number of democrats who think it is important to find a challenger to her in the primaries has taken a large leap.
So conservatives should be dancing in the streets right? Actually, not just yet. That's because on the republican side everyone sucks. Senator Marco Rubio's unfavorable rating is one point higher than his favorable rating and he's doing better than any of the GOP contenders listed in the poll. Rand Paul numbers are 23% favorable vs. 28% unfavorable. Jeb Bush has the same favorable rating as Paul, but his unfavorable number is 36%. The mad Canadian Ted Cruz is seen unfavorably by 32% while only 23% see him in a good light. Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker is looking at a 15% favorable grade and a 17% unfavorable one. His meager numbers are probably because 21% of republicans asked still don't recognize his name.
He isn't the only one out there with recognition problems. 36% of republicans asked didn't recognize Dr. Ben Carson's name and a full 52% had no idea who Carly Fiorina is. To show how bad it can get, 18% said they didn't know Rick Perry and he was a living breathing candidate three years ago. Well--for a month or two anyway.
When it came to how they would vote in primaries, 23% of republicans polled said Jeb Bush would be their first choice as a candidate for the nomination.The list from there went Rubio with 18%, Walker at 14%, Paul 11%, Cruz also 11%, Carson 7%, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee were tied at 5%, and Fiorina was at 1%.
Additionally the evidence is clear the GOP is still a deeply divided party. When asked who they would not support in a primary 27% of those answering said Jeb Bush, 28% Ted Cruz, 39% Mike Huckabee. When it came to New Jersey governor Chris Christie a full 50% of those responding said they wouldn't support him for any reason.
Finally, when asked the hypothetical who would you vote for if the national election were held today, Mrs. Clinton beat all challengers. She currently leads Bush by six points, Rubio by six, and Walker by 10. The only republican whose deficit came close to the poll's margin of error was Rand Paul. He trailed her by four points. The margin of error was 3.1.
There were other odds and ends thrown in for good measure. Barack H. Obama's approval rating is now 48% while 47% disapprove of him. 42% of everyone asked had an unfavorable view of the tea party, while 20% liked them just fine. And--if Joe Biden continues to have any delusional thoughts about running he should consider that 81% of democrats are still gung ho for Mrs. Clinton while only 6% aren't.
Looking at all these figures it is easy to dismiss the republican field as a bunch of stone cold losers. It would be a mistake to do so. Someone is going to emerge from what amounts to an extended political gang fight with a veteran and battle hardened campaign staff. Thanks to Citizens United he will have more money at his disposal than God Almighty and he'll have the backing of a pervasive right wing media machine which has the journalistic ethics of a pack of rabid sewer rats. In addition, if the far left decides to run someone in the national election--remember Ralph Nader--Clinton, like Gore, could find herself in a race so tight it ends up being decided by some amoral tea party crank who is the head of a state election board.
So, as they used to say on TV a half a century, or so ago, don't touch that dial. The plot will thicken.
This race has just begun.