Democratic activists still not quite ready for Clinton

2015-07-17 15:59
Hillary Clinton. (File: AP)

Hillary Clinton. (File: AP)

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Phoenix - Three months into Hillary Clinton's campaign for president, there are fresh warning signs she may be falling short with some Democratic voters whose enthusiasm will be essential to her success in 2016.

While Clinton remains the dominant front-runner for her party's nomination, new polling by Associated Press-GfK shows a drop in her favourability rating among Democrats. Financial disclosure documents filed by her campaign show the bulk of her money coming from big donors, hinting at low enthusiasm with average Americans. And she's facing pushback on her positions from some liberal activists on the campaign trail and at party gatherings.

The former first lady and secretary of state was noticeably absent from the roster of speakers expected this week in Phoenix at the Netroots Nation convention, an influential annual gathering of about 3 000 liberal activists and organizers who frequently volunteer on presidential campaigns.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longshot rival for the Democratic nomination, and Senator Elizabeth Warren planned to address the conference. Several attendees said the two liberal luminaries were pushing Clinton to the left but that they still had reservations about her candidacy.

'I don’t like seeing that'

Republicans have been raising tens of millions of dollars to fuel their own nomination fight, yet they have already devoted significant time and resources to damaging Clinton's image.

An AP-GfK poll released this week found her standing falling among Democrats, with about 70 percent of Democrats giving Clinton positive marks, an 11-point drop from an April survey. Nearly a quarter of Democrats now say they see Clinton in an unfavorable light.

Campaigning in New Hampshire on Thursday, Clinton brushed off the poll findings.

"I don't like seeing that, obviously," she said of the poll. "But I think people know that I will fight for them."

She added, "I'm very pleased with the support I have."

Part of Clinton's decline may be due to questions about her character, an issue Republicans have pushed as a central theme of their campaign. Nearly 6 in 10 voters said they did not view Clinton as compassionate, saying the word described her "slightly" or "not well at all". Just 3 in 10 said the word "honest" described her either very or somewhat well.

Strong point

The percentage of respondents calling Clinton at least somewhat inspiring also slipped from 44% to 37%.

Even the number of voters saying Clinton is at least somewhat decisive, previously a strong point for the former New York senator, fell from 56% in April to 47% in the new poll.

"I think a lot of people are tired of Hillary Clinton and want something new," said Kristen Millnick of Washington, who was among hundreds of activists started arriving at Netroots Nation on Thursday.

Many attendees gave Clinton credit for putting forward populist ideas to expand and protect voting rights, overhaul the immigration system and prosecute rogue Wall Street traders. But they are still looking for policy details that would signal she would fully embrace the party's base on a number of issues.

"People want to believe she will go big," said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "The burden of proof is on her to show that she will go big and bold in the populist direction."

Read more on:    democrats  |  hillary clinton  |  us

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