Although D.C. gossiped endlessly about Hillary Rodham Clinton's "inartful" comments on her wealth, most Democrats don't seem to have paid attention — or just don't care.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll shows that 86 percent of Democrats think she can relate to average Americans "as well as" other potential 2016 presidential candidates, despite her “position and economic circumstances.’’
As you might guess, she fares less well among all other voters -- although she still has the backing of a solid majority of all voters who don't see her as the next Thurston Howell III. The poll found that 55 percent of all people think she's as relatable as other possible candidates, with 37 percent disagreeing.
But that doesn't mean Clinton has nothing to worry about. The "as well as" clause in the poll's question probably waters down negative reactions to the Clinton family's wealth and how she has talked about it in recent days. That's because (1) we really just don't know who those other candidates will be, and (2) when we do meet those candidates, people might not view them as very "in touch" (see: Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis). If people were simply asked whether Clinton was relatable, full stop, the numbers might be a little lower.
There's also the fact that the Clinton family's wealth is very new as an electoral issue and still ongoing -- the latest episode being some outrage about whether the former first lady should keep accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech. We wonder how many people are even aware of all this.
Those caveats aside, it's clear that Clinton's mistake of placing herself on the wrong end of "Dickensian" hasn't transmogrified her into the Democratic Romney — a candidate almost defined by wealth — in a mere fortnight.
Of course, it was very unlikely that this would happen so quickly, given the overwhelming support liberals have given Clinton, as recent polls attest. The latest Pew Research Center poll shows that 88 percent of "solid liberals" have favorable opinions of her. Eighty-eight percent of solid liberals also think the economic system unfairly favors the powerful. Liberals don't see a disconnect between anger toward the economic system and excitement about a potential Clinton presidential campaign.
That's not to say they couldn't change their minds in the next year or two, as the wispy "candidates" compared to Clinton in this poll turn into actual live humans. Clinton made comments during the 2008 presidential campaign — standing up for lobbyists at a blogger convention, for instance — that highlighted her political differences with Barack Obama on wealth and influence.
On the other hand, Clinton has a long time to craft her personal talking points before January 2016 if she decides to run. By the time the Democratic candidates who could challenge her background arrive, she may have the perfect rejoinder (or at least a better one than patting herself on the back for paying income tax).
And in the general election, Clinton should have a built-in advantage when it comes to staying in touch: her party. A Washington Post-ABC News poll from last month showed that 52 percent of registered voters trust Democrats when it comes to helping the middle class.
That perception could change in the next two years, but it's generally a measure that clearly favors Democrats and probably will mean that people give Clinton the benefit of the doubt -- at least more so than a comparable Republican.
In the end, it's way too soon to declare that money would sink or even hurt a Clinton presidential campaign. Democrats and her base are standing strong with her, and plenty of iterations of this debate will play out in the months and years ahead.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll was conducted Thursday to Saturday among a sample of 592 people. It has a margin of error of 5.1 percentage points.