[Ed. – Juggernaut.]
On its face, these numbers are a massive boon for Clinton — indicative of her status as the unquestioned and, at this point, unchallenged frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. It also proves a point we — and many others — have been making for quite some time now: Clinton is a much larger favorite to be the nominee at this point in the 2016 process than she was at this same time (or ever) in the 2008 contest. And, while the hypothetical 2008 matchup showed three candidates — Obama, Edwards and Gore — with real followings immune from Clinton’s frontrunner status, there is no one out there in 2016 that can make the same claim.
While Obama could look at early 2008 polling and see a path to victory if he could consolidate all of the anti-Hillary votes behind him, that looks like a path to 20-ish percent in a primary fight against Clinton at the moment. Put simply: The opposition to the idea of her as the party’s nominee that was clear and vocal in the runup to the 2008 race is simply nonexistent or, at best, too small to cause her any real agita. And, for any politician looking to take a flyer on challenging Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary, these numbers will have a chilling effect on those ambitions.
If you are looking for a dark cloud in these numbers — and, to be honest, you really have to look — it’s that Clinton has nowhere to go but down. Assuming some candidate — Howard Dean? Martin O’Malley? — decides to damn the torpedoes and challenge her, it’s hard to imagine that Clinton wins every primary by 60 points (although she could). Given that the prospect of a serious challenge seems, at this point, laughable, any sort of decent showing by a challenger to Clinton will receive wall-to-wall coverage — “Is it deja vu all over again for Hillary????” and so on and so forth — that makes the race look a lot closer than it actually is.