Up until last week, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed headed for the Democratic nomination simply by coronation from her own party (and maybe the presidency itself if you listen to anyone in the national press corps).

It’s hard to argue with their reasoning given Clinton’s initial lead in the polls, and the lack of anyone on the left showing a real appetite to take her on. But, digging into some recent public polling suggests Clinton has potential problems within her own party ranks, and a substantial narrative challenge with a general election audience.

While Clinton does maintain a wide lead in the upcoming primary, a national Quinnipiac survey released in the last few days (largely before the recent email scandal hit the press), shows the former Secretary’s support among Democrats slipping by about 10 points over the last year:

chart 1

And, even though it’s still early on the process, and no credible alternative to Clinton may even emerge in the Democratic Primary (Joe Biden anyone!?), it should be noted that since 1972, just TWO eventual Democratic nominees for President were ahead in the polls this far out in the campaign:

Chart 2

And, finally, while Clinton’s problems in a Democratic Primary may end up being overstated here – hey, I am a REPUBLICAN pollster after all! – two key data points in recent national surveys suggests potential difficult terrain for Clinton as she educates voters about her vision for America.

By two-to-one, Americans are looking for their next President to CHANGE direction from Barack Obama’s policies. (I don’t think Republicans are alone in believing it may be a difficult proposition for Clinton to make to voters across the country that she’s going to change direction from Obama after spending nearly five years in his cabinet.)

chart 3

And, a December NBC-WSJ poll shows that nearly three-fourths of Americans (71{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) believe the next president should take a different approach than Barack Obama. That data is eerily similar to 2008 data when 76{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans wanted a different approach than George W. Bush – and we all know how that turned out.

Bottom line – if we learned anything from the last week, it’s that Americans (and even some Democratic Party faithful) may begin to reconsider hitting “send” on a Hillary Clinton presidency in 2017.

Public Opinion Strategies