By Jay Boyd, Fox News Summer College Associate
While the divide in the Republican Party has been discussed at length over the years, we could be witnessing an emergence of a divide in the Democratic Party as well.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has long been the presumptive nominee, but a combination of factors has led to her falling poll numbers, where she is currently underwater by 20 points in honesty and 11 points in favorability, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Her competitors, while not all polling well, are attempting to distance themselves from Clinton. However, recent fundraising numbers have her more than quadrupling the rest of the field.
Her closest rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, doesn’t even run in his home state as a Democrat – he’s an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders has experienced a recent boom in support, which has resulted in a Franklin Pierce/Boston Herald poll that has him beating Clinton 44-37 in New Hampshire. Only 35 percent of those polled are “excited” by a Clinton candidacy, in addition. In the same poll in March, Sanders trailed Clinton 47-8, a remarkable turnaround spurred by a meteoric rise.
Recent events hosted by Sanders have reached rather spectacular crowd levels, attracting some of the largest crowds of any candidate in this stage of the primary season. Between three stops in Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, the Vermont Senator had over 70,000 attendees, with the maximum topping out at 28,000 in Oregon. The majority of Clinton’s events are limited to smaller crowds, perhaps in a move to get the events to take on a more personal level. Sanders boasts over $15M in donations to his campaign, none of which are from PACs. Meanwhile, Hillary raked in roughly that amount through only her super-PAC in the first six months of 2015.
Vice President Joe Biden has been garnering poll numbers hovering around 10% for most of the summer, not quite the level of support Sanders has been receiving. However, should Biden enter the race, one could expect his numbers to spike, especially since he has higher favorable ratings than Clinton. Recent reports have said that Biden was encouraged to run by his late son, Beau, along with his other son, Hunter. Should he jump in the race, the most important endorsement, President Obama, may have to decide between his running mate and the “inevitable” nominee.
The one area where Clinton is experiencing consistent support is from the African-American community. While two of her rivals, Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, have experienced backlash from them, Clinton has kept her nose clean, expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement routinely. Her favorability among African-Americans is far and away the best in the Democratic field, but could be threatened by a Biden entry into the race.
Recent news about Clinton’s top secret emails on her private server is yet another hill that her campaign will have to climb to get above water in the honesty and trustworthiness polls. With her server now in the hands of the Justice Department, the e-mail scandal has the potential to get worse before it gets better. No other candidate on the Democratic side has had as many battles to fight as the Clinton campaign, and she seems to be taking a hit with her poll numbers as a result.
The dawn of a split in the Democratic Party could be upon us, but only time can truly tell.