Something sneakingly familiar is happening to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She’s slipping. This latest poll from The New York Times shows her lead dropping from 20 percentage points down to 7 over Bernie Sanders. As her suave alter-ego lamented on Saturday Night Live, “But I thought this time I was the cool one!”
If you ask her campaign, though, the tightening of the race doesn’t come as a surprise. According to spokesman Jesse Ferguson in The Atlantic, “Since the campaign started, we have said this race will be a competitive, tough race that would tighten and we’d have to earn the nomination.”
Many are using this slip as proof Sanders’ powerful message. Our country is alight with populism from both sides, and it’s clear as a country we’re aching for real action. Between Bernie’s radical economic and health plans and Ted Cruz’s extreme conservatism, a moderate just won’t cut it.
What’s really hurting Hillary is what was her strongest demographic: the women’s vote. As 50 percent of the population and increasingly more and more of the voting population, women will make or break this year’s election, and it’s clear that women are starting to side with Bernie. As his momentum grows, Clinton will step up her game—But will this help her or hurt her in the long run? This race is one between the establishment and anti-establishment, and Hillary is caught in the crossfire. If she gets aggressive, she becomes the dreaded Washington insider, but if she says nothing, she’ll be too weak to be considered a good president. Quite the catch-22.
At the crux of this is both her greatest strength and weakness: Bill. His policy experience as past Commander-in-Chief makes him her greatest asset and advisor, but his history of womanizing and Donald Trump’s latest smear campaign makes him a liability. Dick Morris of The Hill writes, “Young voters are only now learning about what went on during the Clinton presidency. Those under the age of 35 were, at most, teenagers when the Lewinsky scandal broke.”
Young people carry the Democratic party. Millennials turning cold on Bill spells trouble for Hillary. According to this latest poll, she does much better with voters over 45, but younger voters favor Sanders 2-1. This reveals a sharp generational divide, and an interesting one: on average, older voters tend to turn out in higher numbers. Are millennials all talk, or will they be voting in the primary to turn the tide for Bernie?
There’s also a personality issue. Hillary’s trying to do it all: be calm yet emotional, fierce yet kind, grandmotherly but made of iron. It’s part of the paradox of running as a woman for office, but also because of her long history in the public eye. Dubbed “Clinton fatigue” by Al Hunt, MSNBC commentator, it may be the result of the increasingly stretched-out presidential race. Bernie doesn’t have to jump through hoops like Hillary, because he’s coming in with much less baggage. He can be our crazy uncle; she can’t be our crazy aunt.
As the polls heat up in preparation for Iowa, we can only ask: Will she bounce back? Or are Democrats going to #FeeltheBern?