- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2015

The scandals that hit Hillary Rodham Clinton in the opening days of her presidential run have marred her for voters in general, but in the eyes of Democrats she looks unscathed — partly because they love her and partly because she’s all they got.

Whatever the reason, Mrs. Clinton appears all-but-invincible as she marches toward the Democratic presidential nomination. But the long slog, while constantly beating back attacks and controversy, could leave her badly wounded if she makes it to the general election, said Republican political strategists.

Mrs. Clinton was as popular as ever in a new Quinnipiac University Poll of likely Iowa Democratic Caucus voters that was released Thursday. She dominated the race with 60 percent support, which mirrors her support from the party faithful in most nationwide surveys.

Her share of the Democratic vote in the early-voting Hawkeye State dropped a mere 1 percent since the same poll in February, despite nonstop scandals swirling around the former first lady, senator and secretary of state.

Among Democrats, she had weathered a furor over her exclusive use of a private email account to conduct official business at the State Department, possibly violating federal open records laws, and allegations of a pay-to-play deal involving foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was America’s top diplomat.

Still, 76 percent of Iowa Democrats told the pollsters they think Mrs. Clinton is honest and trustworthy, compared to just 17 percent who said she was not.

“Most Democrats probably support her because she is the only serious Democrat who is running for president, and she is such a known quantity among Iowans that they are used to her bringing all the drama and scandal that goes with the Clintons,” said GOP strategist Ron Bonjean.

He warned of trouble down the road, however, if the scandals keep coming or don’t go away.

“This will likely create Clinton fatigue for general election voters that a Republican rival can take advantage of to show new leadership,” he said.

Mrs. Clinton fares much worse on the trustworthiness scale when measured by surveys of all voters.

Half of all voters across the country rated Mrs. Clinton as “bad” or “very bad” when asked about her honesty and straightforwardness, compared to 25 percent who said she was “good” or “very good,” according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released this week.

Her honesty has taken a major hit since last summer, when the same poll showed 40 percent saying she was honest and 38 percent saying she was not.

Mrs. Clinton’s honesty numbers fell among Democrats as well, but she remained in the positive territory. Last year 75 percent of Democrats said she was honest and straightforward, and 10 percent said she was not, compared to 53 percent calling her honest and 14 percent saying she is not honest in the latest poll.

She also leads in theoretical matchups against potential Republican opponents, but the margins have grown smaller.

Mrs. Clinton beat Florida Sen. Marco Rubio 49 percent to 42 percent, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul 49 percent to 41 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 49 percent to 40 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 51 percent to 40 percent in a Real Clear Politics average of recent polls.

In Iowa, as in the rest of the country, Mrs. Clinton enjoyed a double-digit lead of all of her potential Democratic rivals and remained the undiluted front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, the only other announced candidate for the Democratic nomination, trailed Mrs. Clinton with 15 percent support from their party’s caucusgoers in Iowa.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden finished third with 11 percent, followed by former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who each garnered 3 percent.

Another 7 percent were undecided, according to the poll.

“One thing is obvious about the Iowa Democratic Caucus participants: They are loyal as the day is long, at least when it comes to Hillary Clinton,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “The former secretary of state has taken a major pounding in the news media and from her political opponents over her email and family foundation. So far these criticisms have had absolutely no effect on her standing among Iowa Democrats.”

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