In a brand new Washington Post-ABC News national poll, just 37 percent of people believe Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy while 57 percent say they don't think she is.
That should be terrible news for Clinton, who still finds herself enmeshed in a primary fight against Bernie Sanders, and for Democrats more broadly who long ago put all their eggs in the Clinton basket. And, it might be in the long run. But, as of today, Clinton's desultory scores on being honest and trustworthy don't seem to be impacting her broader appeal to the electorate in any meaningful way.
Clinton has seized the high ground in her presidential primary fight against Sanders and, given the calendar going forward, seems likely to cruise to a relatively pedestrian victory — particularly after all the sturm und drang following her 22-point shellacking in the New Hampshire primary last month.
The answer to why Clinton's honesty problems might not be hurting her nearly as much as some people — this guy most definitely included — thought they might lies deeper in the Post-ABC poll.
Two in three adults say that Clinton "has the right experience to be president." That includes a stunning — at least to me — 40 percent of Republicans as well as 90 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents. Compare Clinton's 66 percent on the question to 26 percent of respondents who say Trump has the right experience, 35 percent who say the same of Marco Rubio and the 43 percent who say Ted Cruz has the right experience. Pretty striking difference, right?
Now consider that 62 percent of people in the WaPo-ABC poll say they would prefer "someone who has experience in how the political system works" while just 34 percent say they prefer someone from "outside the existing political establishment."
What you have then is an electorate — a general electorate no less — that (a) prizes political experience over outsider credentials and (b) sees Clinton as far and away the candidate in either party with the right experience to be president.
That's a very good electorate if you are Clinton. It remains to be seen whether, under sustained attack by Republicans over her private email server, her experience will continue to trump concerns about her honesty and trustworthiness in the eyes of voters. It's possible — and this is the argument made by the Clinton team — that much of her negatives are already baked in to voters' decisions about her. As in, sure they may have doubts about trusting Clinton, but they've already factored that into their decision and decided that her experience matters more to them.
That's certainly true today. If it's true on Nov. 8, Clinton will likely be elected as the nation's 45th president.