Hillary Clinton slips in presidential poll: Was 2014 a bad year for her?

A new poll shows that Hillary Clinton holds a shrinking lead over the Democratic field for the 2016 presidential race. But it is still huge and the drop isn't alarming.

Jason DeCrow/AP
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks after accepting the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award during a ceremony Tuesday in New York.

When a politician drops 10 percentage points in the polls in a year, a reasonable assumption is that it has probably not been a very good year.

Then again, “reasonable” has not really applied to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presumed run for the presidency in 2016.

Since January, Hillary Rodham Clinton has seen the percentage of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents who would vote for her in a primary or caucus drop by 10 points, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Then again, she still has a 47-point lead over her nearest competitor, Vice President Joe Biden, who clocks in at 14 percent in a new poll. Liberal-wing darling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts comes in third at 13 percent, up 6 percentage points since June.

What does it all amount to? So far, probably nothing more than a gradual and very expected return to earth for the former secretary of State.

At some point, Clinton was going to have to pivot from being the secretary who launched two fawning teledramas to being, well, a politician again – and she was never likely to pull that off without some drag on her atmospheric approval.

This year, she began that pivot with a book tour that, while perhaps less than scintillating, at least put her back in front of the public saying presidential sorts of things. Gone was the dutiful-yet-chic Obama administration civil servant with blackberry and sunglasses. Enter the candidate-to-be.

For some in the Democratic Party, Clinton’s pronouncements might have removed some gloss. She is, after all, more hawkish than President Obama, and as the First Friend of Bill, she is no enemy of the American middle or Wall Street. The result has been a (very) low level liberal insurgency, looking for a potential candidate to challenge Clinton, or at least to drive her further to the left.

Hence the rise of Senator Warren.

But Clinton appears in no danger of being tea partyed by the liberal left. Among the most liberal respondents, Clinton still holds a 63-21 percent lead over Warren, the Post-ABC poll found.

Clinton’s numbers will likely drop further as the 2016 race takes shape. With Jeb Bush essentially announcing for the race this month, that process is beginning to speed up.

To nervous Clinton supporters, however, 2014 does not yet appear to hold hints of 2008, when the front-runner Clinton found herself overtaken by Barack Obama. Instead, for Clinton, a 10-point loss in 2014 looks more like a sign that 2016 is actually starting to get real.

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