The Briefing, Vol. III, Issue 23-
To: Our readers
From: David Freddoso
- Criminal investigation into Hillary’s emails?
- Also, Hillary is a weak and unpopular candidate in swing states;
- Dems find a candidate in Pennsylvania.
Hillary Clinton: A bombshell has seriously disrupted the Clinton campaign, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the economic speech she gave on Friday.
On Thursday night, Clinton was probably getting a good night’s sleep in preparation for her speech. She was to call for a doubling of the top capital gains tax rate — effectively promising to undo the one major policy that did the most to make her husband’s presidency a success in the popular mind — he signed a 1997 capital gains tax cut that unleashed the late-1990s bull stock market.
But as Hillary slept, The New York Times ran a story stating that the inspectors general for the intelligence community and the State Department have asked for a criminal probe into how she chose to handle classified information on her private email server. The campaign was so concerned about the matter that it demanded a “correction,” which resulted in the Times’ editors slightly changing the wording but not the ominous meaning.
The following day, part of the reason was laid bare: The inspectors general found that she had indeed sent classified information derived from he intelligence community over her private, unsecured email server. Four out of just 40 emails they examined contained such classified information. Quite a few more such breaches of intelligence could crop up within the other 30,000 or so work emails Clinton handed over belatedly to the State Department, to say nothing of the 32,000 emails from her private server that she deleted.
The information that Clinton handled negligently is still classified, and so to paraphrase Clinton’s famous quotation, it does, at this point, make a difference. This was all discovered thanks to the investigation by the Benghazi Select Committee.
A criminal investigation may or may not turn up anything illegal or demonstrate that there was lasting harm to American interests abroad. But it is the last thing a political campaign needs, either way.
Clinton’s biggest problem is that voters view her as a dishonest and untrustworthy person. This can only reinforce that perception. Revelations over the course of this year, including the discovery of the private email, have sent her approval numbers plummeting. The Gallup polling trend is quite illustrative, and confirms the CNN historical polling trend we looked at earlier this summer:
Clinton’s new numbers in Gallup’s tracking poll tie her numbers from December 2007 (also three points net-negative) and are the worst since June 2007 (when she stood at a negative four-point net favorability, by Gallup’s measure). It’s important to note that candidates’ favorability often sags amid contested primaries, like the one that existed on the Democratic side in June 2007. It is open for debate whether this year’s Democratic primary is or will be truly contested.
But current events suggest that maybe it should be contested, if Democrats know what’s good for them, because the news gets worse. Earlier last week, before there was any talk of a criminal investigation, Quinnipiac released three new state polls that should have Democrats quite worried. In Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia — three swing states that were critical to both of President Obama’s victories and especially his re-election — Clinton polled in the high 30s and trailed Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker. What’s worse, her net favorability was minus-21 in Colorado, minus-23 in Iowa, and minus-9 in Virginia.
On the question of whether she is honest and trustworthy, the numbers in all three states are even worse:
And here’s a piece of important context: Pluralities of voters told Quinnipiac that Walker, Rubio, Bush, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders are all “honest and trustworthy.”
This is all somewhat ominous for Clinton because she enjoys universal name-recognition. Based on these polls, at least, people in these states have formed an opinion and it isn’t good. Many who say she is dishonest will surely vote for her anyway, but don’t expect the same kind of enthusiasm that put Barack Obama over the top in these three states.
This is especially in Colorado and Virginia, which prior to Obama had been relatively dependable parts of Republicans’ electoral math. Each elected a Republican senator in 2014, and Clinton simply cannot count on carrying either the way Obama did. Iowa, meanwhile, is probably a must-win state for her.
Florida: Rep. David Jolly, R, is jumping into the open-seat Senate race as a result of a redistricting ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that will surely make his fair-fight seat more Democratic. He joins a crowded field that includes his fellow Reps. Ron DeSantis, R, and Jeff Miller, R, both of whom are significantly to his right. The Club for Growth greeted his announcement with a nastygram that provides some hints as to how the primary will look — it compares Jolly to the hated Charlie Crist.
Speak of the devil, Crist appears set to jump in and run for Jolly’s House seat.
Illinois: Not good news for the GOP — Sen. Mark Kirk, R, who seems to be in the race of his life in every single election, was modestly outraised last quarter by his putative general election opponent, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D. The race against Kirk is a must-win for Democrats if they are to regain the Senate majority.
Indiana: Rep. Todd Young, R, is the late entrant into the race for Senate — and a very formidable one at that, with $2 million on hand already before his announcement. Young represents Indiana’s southwest quadrant, including its Cincinnati exburbs. His presence disrupts what was shaping up to be a clean establishment-versus-conservative fight in the GOP primary, between a former state party chairman and conservative Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R, who represents the Fort Wayne area.
Young sports an 88 percent ACU rating, which is pretty decent, but he rates lower than any other Republican in the delegation with Heritage Action. Stutzman (who has nearly $900,000 on hand) will try to frame Young as the new establishment standard-bearer.
Pennsylvania: Democrats have finally got someone to run against Sen. Pat Toomey, R. It’s Katie McGinty, chief of staff to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and former state secretary of Environmental Protection.
McGinty will face a primary against former Rep. Joe Sestak, D, the loser from 2010. Sestak’s fundraising haul in the second quarter was $728,000, leaving him with $2.2 million on hand. That’s not great (Toomey, after all, has $8.3 million in cash) but it’s enough to wage a serious primary against a state Democratic establishment that seems to wish Sestak could be deported to another dimension.
Wisconsin: Another glimmer of Democratic hope here — former Sen. Russ Feingold, D, outraised Sen. Ron Johnson, R, in the second quarter. Johnson has a personal fortune and is ready to use it liberally to defend his seat, but he’s probably the most vulnerable Senate incumbent in America. He trails in the early polls, and his opponent has enough traction with donors that he isn’t going away any time soon.