On the surface, the news is not good for Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator. Her popularity as a presidential candidate is dropping in opinion polls. At the same time, her competition is gaining. She even interrupted her August vacation and returned to the election campaign.
Ms. Clinton remains the leading candidate among likely Democratic Party voters. But the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll says more Americans are viewing her unfavorably. A poll conducted by Quinnipiac College says people use the words “liar,” “dishonest,” and “untrustworthy” to describe her.
Back in Washington, a Republican-led committee is investigating her use of private email when she was secretary of state. And reports say Vice President Joe Biden could join the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But her biggest problem, say political observers, is Bernie Sanders, a 73-year-old senator from the northeastern state of Vermont. He is gaining in popularity every day.
More Americans look at Hillary Clinton unfavorably
When Hillary Clinton announced her campaign for president back in April, she had no competition for the Democratic nomination. Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report said, “In some way, Hillary is running against herself. She’s got to show herself relevant in the 21st century.”
The Washington Post-ABC News poll was taken at the end of August. The survey found that 53 percent of the general population said they had an unfavorable view of Ms. Clinton. However, 80 percent of Democrats still viewed her in a good or favorable way, it found.
Quinnipiac University also released a separate poll last month. Ms. Clinton’s Democratic support dropped to 45 percent in that survey. Senator Sanders came in second place with 22 percent. Eighteen percent of those questioned said they support Vice President Biden.
Stuart Rothenberg is a Washington-based political observer. He thinks Mr. Biden would be a more serious opponent for Mrs. Clinton than Mr. Sanders.
Mr. Rothenberg added, “The reality is – those in the press, and in the Democratic and Republican parties who criticize former Secretary Clinton -- don’t represent the kind of the core of the Democratic Party. They like her. They agree with her. They think that she represents their values and views.”
In the 2012 presidential election, Nate Silver correctly predicted the voting results of all 50 states. His website (FiveThirtyEight) is following what it calls the “endorsement primary” to see which candidates will succeed and which will fail in the 2016 election. To date, Ms. Clinton has more than 322 points in this invisible primary. Her closest rival, Joe Biden, has 16.
Investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email
Earlier this year, a U.S. congressional inquiry found that Hillary Clinton used a private email server to conduct government business as Secretary of State. Ms. Clinton says that she did not violate any rules by using the private server.
She was not the first public official to use private email. Colin Powell, a former secretary of state, also used private email. So did Karl Rove, a White House official, who served in the administration of President George W. Bush.
Ms. Clinton joked recently about a Justice Department review into classified government information on the private email server. When asked by a reporter whether she had wiped the server, she responded, “What, like with a cloth or something?”
As the presidential race gets tighter, the former Secretary of State has admitted that her use of private email “wasn't the best choice.” She added, “I should've used two emails: one personal, one for work. And I take responsibility for that decision.”
Little-known Senator finds large crowds on the campaign
When Senator Sanders announced that he was seeking the Democratic nomination, few people noticed. Vermont is one of the smallest states in the country. It has the second smallest population of any state. The senator announced his candidacy in an email to supporters and the media, not making a loud announcement on television. He is not a registered Democrat, but an Independent, in Congress.
The public and Democrats have noticed larger crowds turning out to hear Mr. Sanders. Nearly 30,000 people went to see him in Portland, Oregon; 27,000 in Los Angeles; 15,000 in Seattle; and 11,000 in Phoenix, Arizona.
In Iowa -- where the candidates are tested in meetings called a caucus -- a poll from The Des Moines Register showed Sanders gaining in the race. Pollster J. Ann Selzer told reporters, "This feels like 2008 all over again.” In that race, Hillary Clinton led then-Senator Barack Obama early, but lost support in the caucus and the race.
Waiting for Biden
Joe Biden is another Democrat whose name is being bandied as a presidential candidate. He has served as Mr. Obama’s vice-president for seven years. Mr. Biden was a senator for 36 years before that. And he was a candidate for president twice before, unsuccessfully.
President Obama said, “Both Joe and Hillary are wonderful people, great friends.” Mr. Biden met recently with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leader of the liberal Democrats. He has kept people guessing by keeping quiet about his plans.
Larry Sabato is with the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. He has this message for nervous Democrats: “Take a deep breath.” In his newsletter Sabato’s Crystal Ball, he wrote, “polls taken in 2015 about the 2016 presidential contest are as solid as a sand castle built on the sea shore — and it’s hurricane season.”
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Words in This Story
interrupted – v. to make a break in the motion of an event or speech
untrustworthy – adv. not believable or reliable
popularity – adv. being liked by a majority of people
relevant – adj. current, having to do with the matter at hand
criticize – v. to judge, usually in a harsh way
inquiry – n. the process of looking for answers
caucus – n. meeting of supporters or members of a specific political party or movement
bandied – v. throwing ideas back and forth in a discussion
take a deep breath - expression pause, stay calm