- - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In all the campaign polls conducted this year, one is more revealing than any other — finding that just one in four Americans are satisfied with our nation’s direction.

After nearly seven years of Barack Obama’s presidency, this is indeed a dismal public record heading into the 2016 race for the White House. It is one that makes Hillary Clinton’s chances of following him into the Oval Office very unlikely.

A meager 26 percent of Americans were satisfied “with the way things are going in the U.S., down slightly from 30 percent in July,” the Gallup Poll said last week. “This is also on the lower end of what Gallup has found in its monthly measures of this question throughout 2015.”

When asked to name the worst problem in our country, without being given a list of choices, 14 percent mention the economy. Yes, no matter how rosy a picture of the economy that the network news media paint, it’s still at the top of the list.

Next on the dissatisfaction roster is the government (13 percent), followed by unemployment or jobs (11 percent).

“These three issues have been largely at the top of Americans’ minds for several months,” Gallup says. And, I might add, throughout the course of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Notably, illegal immigration, the subject that Republican front-runner Donald Trump has made his top issue, was mentioned on average by a little more than 5 percent of Americans.

Republicans were more likely to single out immigration (14 percent) than independents (5 percent) or Democrats (7 percent).

Last month, Gallup found that 65 percent of Americans polled supported “some sort of path to citizenship” versus 19 percent who favored deportation.

Conclusion: Mr. Trump can ride the immigration issue only so far. It’s not going to hand him the GOP’s nomination for president.

According to a national Fox News poll, Mr. Trump leads the field of GOP primary voters with 25 percent. Before the debate, he was at 26 percent, but his post-debate support fell among women, from 24 percent two weeks ago to 21 percent this week.

One part of the Fox poll, which hasn’t received much attention, found that Mr. Trump was judged “as having the worst debate performance and being considered the least likeable Republican candidate.”

When Fox asked debate watchers who did the best and the worst in the Aug. 6 debate, the lowest net scores went to Mr. Trump (minus 13 points, Sen. Rand Paul (minus 11). and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (minus 7).

Among the candidates who received the highest net scores: former corporate CEO Carly Fiorina (plus 12 points), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (plus 8), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (plus 8), and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (plus 7).

Meantime, the worsening email storm swirling about Hillary Clinton has, for the first time, driven her support below 50 percent, as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has seen his polling numbers rise dramatically.

Last week, Mrs. Clinton was forced to turn over her private email server to the FBI, which is investigating whether she sent classified information on her system that was outside of the government’s control.

As the investigation has widened, it now appears that some of her statements defending her use of a private computer system were false.

Ms. Clinton has repeatedly said she never sent or received emails that included information that was classified at that time.

But that claim has been contradicted by the intelligence community’s inspector general, who sent a referral of his findings to the Justice Department, triggering the latest FBI investigation.

Thus, the daily drumbeat of new revelations has raised questions about the former secretary of state’s honesty and trustworthiness that have sent her approval numbers into a nosedive.

This week’s Fox poll found that she now leads Mr. Sanders among Democratic primary voters by 19 percent — 49 to 30 percent. Just a few weeks ago, she had led him by 29 points, or 51 to 22 percent.

Last month Mrs. Clinton was leading him by 40 points, or 59 to 19 percent.

The FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s server has not only raised new questions about her integrity and character, but shows no signs of going away this year, or thereafter.

While she continues to flatly deny she sent classified information in her emails, news stories continue to report daily that it appears she has done just that.

Consider this story sent out Tuesday by the Associated Press: “But her emails show some messages she wrote were censored by the State Department for national security reasons before they were publicly released,” the AP said.

“The government blacked out those messages under a provision of the Freedom of Information Act intended to protect material that had been deemed and properly classified for purposes of national defense or foreign policy.”

Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer has said that her computer has been “wiped” clean, thus deleting all her emails, but the FBI is attempting to recover data from its hard drive.

“Once you get your hands on a hard drive, there’s a lot you can recover,” computer scientist Darren Hayes told the AP.

If by now you are thinking this is turning into a bizarre presidential nominating contest, we may not have seen the worst of it yet.

A Republican front-runner says he’ll round up and deport 11 million illegal immigrants. And he has said in the past that he intends to “take back” the Saudis’ oil if need be.

A Democratic front-runner is being investigated by the FBI for sending illegal emails. What next, I wonder?

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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