Americans are less turned off by ‘dynasty politics’ than some political experts and surveys have suggested in assessing Hillary Clinton’s prospects in the 2016 presidential campaign.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that more than six in ten voting age adults say Bill Clinton’s eight-year presidency would have no bearing on whether or not they would support his wife. Twenty-three percent said they would be more likely to vote for the former First Lady and Secretary of State because of her family ties while just 14 percent said they would be less inclined to vote for her.
In an interesting twist, the dynamic appears to be working against the former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who is moving swiftly to prepare for an almost certain bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Slightly more than half of those interviewed said the fact that Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, and brother, George W. Bush, served as president would not influence their decision. But by a margin of 3 to 1, those who say the family connection would be a factor in their decision say it is running in a negative direction.
As the report on the Post-ABC News poll notes, a presumed voter distaste for political dynasties has long been considered an obstacle to Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions, dating back to her unsuccessful 2008 campaign. The assumption was that the country was suffering from Clinton fatigue after President Bill Clinton served two terms between 1993 and 2001 and survived an impeachment trial stemming from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Jeb Bush’s expressed desire to become the third member of his family to serve in the White House has sparked similar concerns, especially among many Republicans who would prefer to forget President George W. Bush’s ventures into Iraq and Afghanistan, which sapped essential resources and attention away from what became America’s Great Recession.
A Rasmussen poll in January found that just 33 percent of self-identified Republicans say Jeb Bush should run for president in 2016. Thirty-four percent said he should not, with 33 percent unsure. Moreover, 64 percent of those surveyed said the GOP should look for a “fresh face” to run for president.
“Basically, there have been two Bush presidencies already, versus one Clinton presidency,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato. “Just as important, most people remember prosperity more than scandal for Bill Clinton’s tenure, while the most recent Bush terms were not regarded as particularly successful—the result of the unpopular Iraq War, the handling of Hurricane Katrina, and most of all, the economic collapse in the fall of 2008.”
Clinton and her top advisers have been assembling a team of high-powered fundraisers and campaign strategists for her almost certain bid for the presidency and shaping a new campaign message focused on the economic problems of the middle class.
In a hypothetical matchup between Clinton and Bush, the Washington Post-ABC News poll shows her leading, 54 percent to 41 percent. Clinton holds a similar double-digit lead over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, who is actively considering launching a third bid for the White House next year.
Romney and Bush would appeal to largely the same establishment Republican base of conservatives and business interests, which has made Romney’s surprise announcement that he might run again very awkward for Bush. The two men met for lunch on Thursday in Salt Lake City, but neither camp had much to say about what was discussed.
Former governor Mike Leavitt of Utah, a close friend of Romney’s, told The New York Times he was confident it was a gentlemanly conversation.
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