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Hillary Meter: Clinton’s Chances Improve After First Debate

Monday, October 19, 2015

Democrats - and voters in general - are more convinced that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee following the first debate among the party's presidential hopefuls.

Rasmussen Reports' latest Hillary Meter finds that 78% of Likely Democratic Voters believe Clinton is likely to be their party’s presidential candidate, up only three points from last month. But that includes 50% who now think Clinton is Very Likely to win the nomination, up 10 points from the previous survey and up 15 points from August.  Just 15% of Democrats say Clinton is not very or Not At All Likely to be the nominee, down seven points from September. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Still, in the first edition of the Hillary Meter in July, 87% of Democratic voters expected a Clinton nomination, with 53% who considered it Very Likely.

Clinton didn’t get a bump from Tuesday night’s debate in our latest matchup of all the candidates but still holds a two-to-one lead over her closest rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. 

Among all Likely Voters, 69% now believe Clinton is likely to be the next Democratic presidential candidate. That’s up nine points from the previous survey and includes 37% who say her candidacy is Very Likely. Just 24% consider that outcome unlikely, with nine percent (9%) who say it is Not At All Likely.

Despite the increasing legal and political questions about her use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of State, Clinton sailed through the first debate unchallenged, unscathed and unrepentant.

Her use of the private server was revealed during an ongoing congressional investigation of the incident in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 when the U.S. ambassador and three other U.S. Embassy employees were killed. More voters than ever are convinced that the Benghazi matter will hurt Clinton’s bid for the White House.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 14-15, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Rasmussen Reports will continue to release the Hillary Meter monthly to regularly update public perceptions of the former first lady on her march to the White House. We’ve also added a weekly Friday feature called Trump Change which tracks Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s performance in the GOP race. Rasmussen Reports will consider regular tracking features for other candidates depending on the dynamics of the race.

Heading into the debate, most Democrats (52%) expected Clinton to win.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of all voters still view Clinton as politically liberal, little changed from last month. Only six percent (6%) say she is conservative, while 29% consider her a moderate. In the first Hillary Meter – in April 2005 – 43% said Clinton was liberal, eight percent (8%) conservative and 34% moderate.

Among Democrats, 47% consider Clinton a moderate, 36% a liberal and eight percent (8%) a conservative.

Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans consider Clinton a liberal, but 66% consider her nomination likely, also up considerably from last month. Sixty-two percent (62%) of voters not affiliated with either major party think Clinton will win.

Seventy-two percent (72%) of women and 66% of men think Clinton is likely to win the nomination. Men believe a bit more strongly than women that Clinton is a liberal.

Blacks feel much more strongly than whites and other minority voters that Clinton will end up as the nominee.

In mid-September, only 36% of Democratic voters believed Sanders is likely to be the party's candidate. 

Vice President Joe Biden is keeping everyone guessing about whether he will run for president in 2016, but 51% of voters in his party think Biden is likely to end up the nominee.  However, that was before the debate, and the strength of Clinton’s performance is likely to chill efforts to encourage Biden to enter the race.

Democrats are planning to hold six debates for their 2016 presidential candidates, and most (54%) of the party’s voters think that number is about right.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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