Hillary Clinton was declared to be “the biggest front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination ever,” in January by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza. This week, the Post’s Jaime Fuller cautioned that “America isn’t sure it’s ‘ready for Hillary’ quite yet.”
So what’s changed?
According to Fuller, Clinton’s approval rating has dropped from 69 percent in January of 2013 to 44 percent today. A Fox News poll reported similar findings, stating that Clinton's approval rating was 56 percent in June 2013 and 49 percent in April of 2014.
“The numbers are a case study in what campaigning can do to a public figure's persona,” Fuller wrote. “As soon as voters sense a whiff of political ambition in those they hold in high esteem, approval often begins to break along more partisan lines.”
While Clinton obviously does enjoy significantly more popularity among Democrats than Republicans, according to CNN, she is experiencing some dissatisfaction from her own party, especially among moderates.
"Fifty percent of liberal Democrats say they would be enthusiastic about Clinton winning the nomination, but only 36 percent of moderate Democrats feel the same way,” according to CNN polling director Keating Holland. “There are big differences between liberal and moderate Democrats that indicate that a primary challenger who runs to the right of Clinton may get more traction than a progressive challenger would."
Along with new, unfavorable polls, Clinton has suffered from less than flattering news coverage as of late. Recent headlines have suggested that Hillary has brain damage, is old enough to be using a walker, and fondly remembers representing a child rapist when she still practiced law.
She also received widespread criticism for claiming that she and Bill Clinton were “dead broke” when they left the White House, according to NewsMax.
Whether or not these headlines are overly simplistic or sensationalistic, they represent a dramatic shift in Hillary coverage.
Hillary’s loss of popularity and increased public scrutiny came with her perceived presidential aspirations, according to Fuller. Americans are beginning to view her as a potential president instead of a secretary of state, and the numbers shouldn’t be considered written in stone.
“Clinton's approval ratings will likely continue a tumultuous rigamarole of tumbling and climbing up until she announces (or doesn't),” she wrote. “We're only at the very, very beginning stage of people starting to think about whether they like or fear the idea of another President Clinton.”
The current buzz about Hillary doesn’t mean anything for the future election, Fuller continued. “It's asking a bit much for people to have fully formed opinions about the next presidential election when we're still closer in time to the one that just happened two years ago.”
Bethan Owen is a writer for the Deseret News Moneywise and Opinion sections. Twitter: BethanO2