Editor’s Note: SE Cupp is a CNN political commentator and the host of “SE Cupp Unfiltered.” This piece has been adapted from her Saturday evening show monologue. The views expressed in this commentary are solely hers. View more opinion articles on CNN.
Oh, the arrogance.
I was recently talking to one of my friends, a former Bill Clinton operative, about the unique properties a special category of people have in common. The category is Humans Who Run for President of the United States. The unique properties are, in a word, an outsized sense of self.
A level of arrogance is, by definition, required. Imagine believing you can solve unwieldy, complex, centuries-old, systemic problems that others heretofore have not, that your singular genetic and experiential alchemy makes you the best person to lead a nation, that you can in fact defeat dozens of other capable and qualified candidates to be the last man or woman standing.
Then imagine thinking all that, while being one of the most divisive politicians to run for president – and fail twice, once to a member of your own party and once to Donald J. Trump. Welcome to Hillary Clinton’s mind.
Clinton, once again, refused this week to rule out a 2020 presidential bid, insisting she was hearing from plenty of people who wanted her to jump in.
“I, as I say, never, never, never say never,” she said in a radio interview Tuesday. “I will certainly tell you, I’m under enormous pressure from many, many, many people to think about it.” This echoes other flirtations, including a tweet warning Trump, “Don’t tempt me.”
This Democratic field of candidates is the most diverse in the history of the presidency. There’s not only a racial and ethnic diversity of backgrounds, but a diversity of experience – there are senators, congressional members, past and current mayors, governors, businessmen and even a self-help guru. There’s also a diversity of ideas, from far-left progressive policies to more moderate and incremental views of how to fix broken systems. There’s a diversity of age and geographical appeal.
If voters can’t find something they like from this field, it likely doesn’t exist.
And it’s finally begun to consolidate, with voters lining up behind a handful of frontrunner candidates. This is the way it’s supposed to go – the process is working just fine, despite the anxieties of Democratic donors who believe a late entrant like Hillary Clinton or Michael Bloomberg is needed to save Democratic voters from themselves.
But Clinton, especially, isn’t the answer.
While she won the popular vote in 2016, she’s hardly popular. According to an October Fox News poll, 54% of registered voters have a negative opinion of her. Only 41% have a positive opinion.
Over the course of the yearlong election, her unfavorable ratings went up – starting at 51% unfavorable in November 2015, and ending at 54.4% unfavorable in November 2016, according to Real Clear Politics’ poll average. In short, the more people saw, the less they liked.
As polarizing as Trump was and is, so too was Clinton.
In May of 2016, as FiveThirtyEight noted, both Clinton and Trump were more strongly disliked than any nominee at that point in the past 10 presidential cycles.
You’d think that nearly three years of Trump’s divisive rhetoric, his utter incompetence, his embarrassing foibles on the world stage, would have put a fresh coat of paint on Clinton’s reputation. You’d think wrong.
Even now, she is outpolled by her fellow Democrats in the primary, all of whom are more popular now than she was in 2016.
If this doesn’t sound like a recipe for success in 2020, well, you must be people not named Hillary Clinton, who still seems to think she could be what the nation is clamoring for. But that’s not because the nation is thinking – a whopping 75% of Democratic voters are satisfied with the current field.
More likely, nostalgia for what could have been is clouding the judgment of those who wish she were running now, including, perhaps, Clinton herself: