One of the most persistent tropes of the 2016 election is that some large number of liberals are deeply dissatisfied with the centrist approach to politics long championed by Hillary Rodham Clinton and, as a result, are actively engaged in a search for a more progressive alternative.
Persistent -- and wrong. The truth is that scant evidence exists in any poll to suggest that Clinton is anything short of beloved (or, at the very least, be-liked) by the party's liberal base.
Take a new Iowa poll conducted by Quinnipiac University. In it, Clinton stands at 60 percent in a hypothetical caucus vote, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) running second at 15 percent. Clinton's standing among the base of the party? She gets 61 percent among those who consider themselves "very" liberal and 66 percent among the "somewhat" liberal. Her poorest performing ideological group is "moderate/conservative" Democrats, where she wins only 58 percent.
Take it a step further. It's not just that liberals in Iowa are going to vote for Clinton. They also have an extremely positive view of her. Overall, 83 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers told Quinnipiac that they view Clinton favorably. That number jumps to 88 percent among "very" liberal Democrats. So, 9 in 10 of the most liberal voters in Iowa like Clinton. Not exactly a liberal problem, right?
And it's not just Iowa. The last national poll conducted by the Washington Post-ABC News, in late March, showed similar popularity numbers for Clinton. Eighty four percent of Democrats rated her favorably. Seventy seven percent of self-identified "liberals" had a favorable opinion of Clinton, including 50 percent who felt "strongly" favorable toward her.
Poll after poll -- in key states and nationally -- shows the same thing. Are their voices within the party -- Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Bill de Blasio -- who wonder aloud whether Clinton is sufficiently committed to liberal ideals to carry the party's banner basically unchallenged in 2016? Yes. But, remember two things: 1) It is in the interests of people like the trio I mentioned above to elevate themselves as leaders of the left, a calculation to which Clinton is really a sidebar and 2) There is NO evidence that these few prominent voices represent any substantial bloc of, you know, actual voters. Pockets of discontent toward Clinton exist, but they are pockets, not a whole pair of pants. (Ugh.)
And, to the extent that there remains any doubt about Clinton among liberals, she is moving forcefully to address it. She surprised almost everyone on the left with her aggressive endorsement of a path to citizenship for undocumented workers and also recently spoke about prison reform, a cause near and dear to liberals. And, don't forget that Clinton -- from her announcement video on -- has put income inequality front and center in the campaign.
Look, Clinton has plenty of potential problems in the race. The baggage she carries from her years in the public spotlight. Her husband and his role in the campaign. The Clinton Foundation. The e-mail server. You get the idea.
But it is a fallacy to talk about her "liberal" problem. She doesn't have one.