Why is Hillary slipping?

14 January 2016 2:29 pm

The latest polls show that Bernie Sanders is pulling ahead of Hillary Clinton.

According to a Monmouth poll, Sanders has opened up a 14 point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire. A Quinnipiac poll puts him five points ahead in Iowa and a CBS/New York Times poll has Clinton’s lead dropping from 20 points to seven.

Why is this happening? One reason might be that the Republican front runner Donald Trump has been attacking Clinton, singling out her alleged collusion with her husband Bill’s “sexism”. Trump has dredged up photos of Bill Clinton standing next to Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern with whom Clinton had an extramarital affair in the late 1990s and has Hillary Clinton's voice playing over a 15 second video clip, during which the former first lady, senator and secretary of state is heard to proclaim: "Women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights, once and for all. Let's keep fighting for opportunity and dignity."

Trump has left Bernie Sanders alone. No one has laid a glove on him.

Then again, there would be plenty of voters who would be sick of Clinton and wary of her continuing the Clinton dynasty in the White House. Sanders has an appeal because, like Trump, he could come across as an outsider, even as a member of Congress.

Clinton however is fighting on. A new ad reminds Democrats of the stakes in the 2016 race. It features a montage of belligerent-sounding Republican candidates. Mrs. Clinton is cast as best positioned to keep them out of the White House.

At the same time, however, there are polls showing Sanders destroying Trump by 13 points compared to Clinton’s lead of six points.

Still, Sanders might have difficulty countering the Republican machine when push comes to shove. He is 74 years old and an avowed democratic socialist. To her credit, Clinton hasn’t really focused on his left-leaning ideology and has instead got stuck into him on issues like gun control. But if Sanders wins the nomination, you can bet the Republicans will paint him as a Marxist.

“If you look at the full dynamics of the 2016 race, it’s hard to see the U.S. electing a person who is 74 years old and has the label of a socialist,” Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster who helps oversee the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll told The Wall Street Journal.

Nonetheless, Clinton as former First Lady and Secretary of State, has been a familiar fixture of establishment politics. She does not come across as an exciting new voice or agent of change. That's what destroyed her campaign in 2008 when she was up against Obama. And Sanders, like Obama in 2008, might feel new and exciting for many voters.

Nonetheless, it’s early days yet. There have been many instances where people who appeared to be winners in the early polling fell away when there was a contested race. Just ask Ed Muskie who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972 and lost to George McGovern and George Romney, father of the last GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who ran for the Republican nomination in 1968 and lost to Richard Nixon.

Sanders and Clinton are fighting for theart of the Democratic party. And certainly the polls are much better than Sanders could have hoped for at at the start of the campaign.