- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

President Obama said recently that the American people are going to want that “new car smell” in 2016 — and two new polls show that might apply to members of his own party.

A new McClatchy-Marist poll says that 38 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents think it’s more important to have a Democratic nominee for president who will continue Mr. Obama’s policies, and 58 percent think it’s more important to have a nominee who will move in a different direction.

That’s a change from a year ago, when 49 percent said it’s more important to have a nominee who will continue the president’s policies, and 46 percent said it’s more important to have one who will move in a different direction.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton leads the field of possible Democratic contenders with 62 percent of the vote, followed by Vice President Joseph R. Biden at 11 percent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 9 percent.

However, in a separate Monmouth University poll released Tuesday, Democratic voters said that while they were “ready for Hillary,” they also wanted to see an active primary challenge to the former first lady — looking to test-drive a new model, as it were.

Mrs. Clinton has tried to put a bit of distance between herself and Mr. Obama on issues like foreign policy, but some in the party are trying to convince Mrs. Warren to run as an alternative to Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Biden, who have been two of the most prominent figures in American politics for a quarter-century or more.

Mrs. Clinton was the preference of 48 percent of Democrats and “Democratic-leaning” voters to be their next nominee for president in the Monmouth poll, far outpacing Mrs. Warren at 6 percent and Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent and a self-described socialist, and Mr. Biden, who drew 2 percent apiece.

But 48 percent also said it would be better if Mrs. Clinton faced an active primary challenge, compared to the 43 percent who thought it would be better if the party got behind Mrs. Clinton early on in the nominating process.

“When nearly half of Democratic voters volunteer the name Hillary Clinton as their choice for 2016, it’s hard to deny that she is the clear front-runner,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “At the same time, Democrats do not want the nomination process to be a coronation.”

At this stage of the 2008 electoral cycle, polling of Democratic voters looked similar: Mrs. Clinton was the overwhelming and seemingly inevitable choice over then-Sens. Barack Obama and John Edwards and a host of other figures, who were seen as potential progressive challengers but not as likely winners.

Mr. Sanders, who said he’s considering a run, was in the early presidential caucus state of Iowa on Tuesday.

Mrs. Warren has repeatedly said she’s not running despite pleas from liberal groups for her to enter the race, saying Monday that “no means no,” according to masslive.com.

For her part, Mrs. Clinton has the support from Democratic Sen. Al Franken — a reliably liberal voice in the U.S. Senate — who told MSNBC in an interview that aired Tuesday he thinks he’s “ready for Hillary.” She also has the support of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, despite the group Democracy for America — originally founded by Mr. Dean and now chaired by his brother Jim — expressing support for a Warren candidacy.

The Monmouth survey of 1,008 adults, including 386 registered voters who say they are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic party, was taken from Dec. 10-14, and the smaller sample has an error margin of 5 percentage points.

The McClatchy-Marist survey of 1,140 adults was taken Dec. 3-9 and has an error margin of 2.9 percentage points.

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