The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton *drops* to a 49-point lead for the Democrats’ 2016 nomination


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), left, and Hillary Clinton attend then-Sen. John Kerry's confirmation hearing to replace Clinton as secretary of state in January 2013 on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The year 2014 brought a mixed bag for Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes. Her popularity continued to decline, her book tour drew mixed reviews (along with her book), and some in the liberal wing of the part are urging Elizabeth Warren to challenge her for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But her status as most prohibitive Democratic front-runner in history has not changed. She remains the overwhelming favorite against both Warren and Vice President Joe Biden.

Sixty-three percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they'd vote for her if their state's primary (or caucus) were held today, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Biden garners 14 percent, Warren wins 11 and three other candidates get less than 5 percent each, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Virginia senator Jim Webb and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Clinton's 49-point lead is actually her worst performance of the year in Post-ABC polls, with her support slipping 10 points over the course of four surveys this year (the first of which only listed three candidates).

That lead has led to plenty of talk about whether Clinton is inevitable. As we've noted, Clinton's lead is far larger than her advantage heading into her ultimately losing 2008 candidacy and is bigger than any non-incumbent since at least the 1980s. Her edge also contrasts sharply with the Republican field, where the same poll found Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush leading but neither cresting 20 percent.

Clinton's lead is not likely to be this big one year from now. Once candidates (including Clinton) actually announce their candidacies and debates are held, Democrats will become more familiar with their options and some will certainly pick other candidates.

But just as the election is many months away, so does Clinton have a very long way to fall before an opponent can make any serious challenge. There remains a huge reservoir of goodwill toward Clinton in the Democratic Party, and that's what has kept her edge in far-away pre-election surveys so gigantic throughout 2014.

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