Hillary Clinton Is Stuck In A Poll-Deflating Feedback Loop | FiveThirtyEight
Candidates can just as easily get caught — or entrap themselves — in self-reinforcing cycles of negative media attention and declining poll numbers. Hillary Clinton looks like she’s stuck in one of these ruts right now.
The Washington Post’s David Weigel recently observed that voters were hearing about only three types of Clinton stories, all of which have negative implications for her. First are stories about the scandal surrounding the private email server she used as secretary of state. Next are stories about her declining poll numbers. And third are stories about how Vice President Joe Biden might enter the Democratic presidential race.
No one of these stories is necessarily all that damaging to Clinton on its own. But together, they potentially enhance and reinforce one another. Biden is being included in most polls of the Democratic race, and his numbers have improved as the media has given more coverage to his potential campaign, with most of that support coming from Clinton. Furthermore, the various Clinton scandals — past, present and future — are one of the principal rationales for Biden to run, whether or not he says so explicitly. It’s hard to prove whether the email scandal itself is directly responsible for driving down Clinton’s numbers, and it’s possible that the patina of negative associations generated by the story matter more than the details.[SUP]5[/SUP] But it certainly isn’t helping her.
There are a number of ways the spiral of negative stories could end:
- New news stories could disrupt the cycle.[SUP]6[/SUP]
- Biden could opt out of the race and possibly also endorse Clinton.
- The trickle of new revelations on the email story could stop — as it largely did from April through June.
- Clinton could lift her poll numbers, perhaps temporarily, with an aggressive advertising spend.
- Clinton could hit some bedrock of support — her most loyal voters — beyond which her poll numbers wouldn’t decline much further.[SUP]7[/SUP]
- Clinton could fall far enough that the “Clinton comeback” story becomes more compelling to the media than the “Clinton in disarray” story, as happened late in the 2008 Democratic primary campaign.
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