Can Early AFT Endorsement of Clinton Save Her From Sanders and Benghazi?
On Saturday, July 11, 2015, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.
This news is no surprise, and the AFT’s “long, deliberative process” is pretty much window dressing. It was going to be Hillary.
The July 11, 2015, AFT press release implies that AFT is supporting Clinton for president, but its own FAQ on the issue states that the endorsement is for the Democratic primary and that the vote to endorse Clinton for president has yet to occur:
Q: Is the endorsement only for the Democratic nomination? What about the general election?
A: Yes, the endorsement is for the Democratic nomination. The endorsement for the general election will be made by the delegates to the AFT convention, which will be held in July 2016 in Minneapolis.
So, the support is for the Democratic nomination, but Republicans were invited to vie for AFT support….
That AFT would endorse any Republican for president is unthinkable. AFT President Randi Weingarten “is an active member of the Democratic National Committee.” So, for AFT to state in its FAQ in the Hillary endorsement that it did not consider endorsing a Republican because “no Republican candidate responded to our invitation” is pure political nonsense.
In its announcement, the AFT also included the results of a member survey conducted over the phone between June 22 and 27, 2015. Based on 683 responses, AFT declares the following:
Overall, 60% of AFT members either self-identify as Democrats or self-identify as independent and say they will vote in the Democratic primaries. Following are some of the most important results among these AFT Democratic primary voters.
§ Hillary Clinton enjoys overwhelming support as AFT members’ first choice to be the Democratic presidential nominee. Fully two-thirds (67%) of Democratic primary voters pick Clinton, giving her a commanding 48-point lead over Bernie Sanders (19%) while O’Malley, Webb, and Chafee all receive no more than 1% of the vote. Clinton is the clear first choice among every division within AFT. [Emphasis added.]
One of the issues with this survey is that the data are already outdated. Another is that the data provide only a single snapshot in the continuous polling world of approaching presidential primary elections. Hillary’s “commanding” lead over Sanders is slowly closing in, with Clinton dropping and sanders rising. Consider the following yougov.com posting by public opinion polling expert Kathy Frankovic, based on polling done July 4 – 6, 2015 (Click on image to enlarge):
With former Virginia Senator Jim Webb’s announcement last week, the Democrats now have five announced candidates (with Vice President Joe Biden as of now still on the sidelines). On the GOP side, there are more than a dozen announced candidates, with another few likely to enter the contest in the next few weeks. Republican support is scattered among a number of those candidates, with front-runners barely in double digits. The smaller number of Democratic contenders produces a clear front-runner with majority support: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However, this week, her closest challenger is closer than ever. One in four Democrats now favor Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Clinton’s support has dropped in the last few weeks as more candidates have entered the race, and as criticisms of her handling of private emails while she was Secretary of State have continued. In last week’s poll, opinion of her handling of the terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya matched her all-time low.
But Sanders is the only Clinton opponent who appears to have benefited. His crowds have grown, along with his Democratic support. When Democrats who are registered to vote are asked to choose only between Sanders and Clinton, Clinton holds a 35-point lead. [Emphasis added.]
Note that the 35-point lead that Clinton has involves asking Democrats if they had to choose between Clinton and Sanders, who would they choose?
So, considering the AFT survey result: whereas among AFT Democratic and likely-Independent primary voters surveyed between June 22 and 27, 2015, Clinton held a “commanding 48-point lead,” among Democratic voters surveyed by yougov.com between July 4 and 6, 2015, that lead is not so “commanding,” with Clinton at 55% and Sanders at 24%– a 31-point lead.
And Sanders has no Benghazi situation and related mail scandal to plague him.
And there are still voters left to learn about Sanders. In contrast, when it comes to Clinton, Democratic and Independent voters feel like they know her (click on image to enlarge):
So, it seems that the timing of the inevitable AFT endorsement of Clinton is designed to boost her ratings, which overall happened to drop at an all-time low right as the AFT Clinton-endorsement survey was conducted (AFT survey: June 22-27, 2015; survey info below ends with June 27-29, 2015, polling) (click on image to enlarge):
The above information on Clinton’s favorability with the general public is part of an article on public perceptions of terrorism Frankovic published on July 07, 2015. Again, Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi situation is having a bearing on public opinion. From Frankovic:
Concern about terrorism could be a factor in the 2016 presidential campaign. The latest release of additional emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account might matter. The public’s assessment of her handling of the 2012 attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya is now clearly negative. Only 29% this week approve of the way she handled the attack on the Benghazi Consulate, just about matching the lowest rating on this for Clinton since September 2014 (28%).
So, it looks like AFT’s publicized backing of Clinton on July 11 ,2015, is an attempt to save her from Bernie Sanders, who is undoubtedly benefiting from public perceptions of Clinton’s poor handling of those Benghazi emails and will likely continue to rise in the polls and Clinton continues to drop.
How high Sanders will rise in the polls as we approach the Democratic primaries in early 2016 remains to be seen. However, Sanders has no Benghazi, and I think both Clinton and AFT are taking that truth seriously.
Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.
She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, newly published on June 12, 2015.