No, you’re not reading the headline wrong, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is the top choice among Democratic primary voters by a mere one percent over former vice president Joe Biden in a hypothetical 2020 field according to a new Harvard-Harris poll. While Hillary has kept the door open to a 2020 run, with her various statements, she still doesn’t seem inclined to enter the race. What would it take, one ore two more polls like this one showing her as an instant front runner? She could get in by January and be raising money in no time.
A poll like this is too good to ignore without giving it at least a passing writeup. What is wrong with the Democratic field that is giving Democrats such an uneasy feeling about the current crop of declared candidates?
A new poll of registered Democrats has Hillary Clinton as their top choice for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination — and she’s not even running.
The online Harris Poll survey released by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard found that Clinton placed first with 21% of the vote, followed closely by former Vice President Joe Biden at 20%, Sen. Bernie Sanders at 12%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 9% and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 7%.
It polled 1,859 voters and was conducted between Nov. 27 and 29 of this year.
Pollsters also surveyed respondents without Clinton in the race — and Biden came out first, with 29% of the vote, followed by Sanders at 16% and Warren at 13%.
Tom Bevan, of RealClearPolitics, put the numbers in a nice readable format for everyone:
Harvard-Harris, top 5 current 2020 field among Democratic voters:
If Hillary Clinton and John Kerry get in race?
Buttigieg & Kerry 5https://t.co/KiEbT2ik7Z
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) December 9, 2019
Former secretary of state John Kerry would be a nonfactor as he was somewhat of a disaster for Democrats in 2004. He holds no real stature in 2020 as a genuine contender.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, continues to keep the door propped open to the possibility of running. Last Wednesday, Hillary sat down for an interview with radio legend and shock jock Howard Stern. In a wide-ranging, and sometimes described as “wild” interview, Hillary seemed to be there for one reason and one reason alone: To become more relatable, according to New York Post columnist Maureen Callahan:
The strongest indicator yet that Hillary’s mulling a 2020 run? She appeared Wednesday, for the first time ever, on Howard Stern.
There was hardly a pretense she was there to promote the book she co-wrote with daughter Chelsea, long ago a bestseller.
As those who listen to the show know, Stern publicly begged Hillary to appear during the 2016 campaign. After Donald Trump won, Stern said one guest shot could have moved the needle her way.
“If she had come on the show …,” Stern mused in May. “The way I helped Donald was I let him come on and be a personality. Whether you liked him or not … people related to him as a human being.”
Hillary, it’s clear, was after exactly that — relatability, long her white whale.
One can only ask: Why now, if she has no plans to run yet again?
Sure, it’s possible she just loves being part of the national conversation. But of all the venues such a serious stateswoman could choose, one whose public presentation has been so carefully cultivated over decades, really: Howard Stern?
She hasn’t closed the door on 2020. Just this past weekend, during an appearance on the UK’s “Graham Norton Show,” Hillary said she’d been “deluged” with pleas to run again.
Most of Hillary’s comments about 2020 are concerning the people around her who she claims are urgently trying to persuade her to run. That could be seen as a way to test the waters, perhaps drop her potential candidacy out there as being spurred on by the desires of others to see what kind of acceptance she could get from Democratic voters.
If we get back to the Harvard-Harris poll, grabbing the lead without being a declared candidate is worth noting. However, it’s not a huge lead. In fact, it’s one percent which makes it more like a statistical tie with Joe Biden. It’s not the sort of eye-popping poll that would make Team Hillary sit up and listen, but you can be sure they’re at least considering.
If she’s serious about getting in the race, she’d have to contend with missed deadlines, such as the New Hampshire primary ballot deadline which has already passed. Maybe she doesn’t care much about the early states or competing in the Granite State specifically after she lost there to Bernie in 2016.
One can truly never know the intentions of most politicians while they maneuver and drop hints about future plans. One thing’s for sure, though, Hillary remains rather unsettled over how 2016 played out, and she’s not afraid to point fingers and keep the issue alive. Maybe she thinks it’s a way to elicit sympathy and have Democratic voters beg to give her a redo.
The off-chance that Hillary decides to pull together a campaign still remains low, but she keeps the possibility alive for some reason. For the declared candidates, they must be thinking they’d prefer that she shut up about it and let the primary play out. A “pee or get off the pot” kind of annoyance.