WASHINGTON, D.C. — A top adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign dismissed drooping polling data on Wednesday, saying he believes there’s been “minimal change” since she entered the Democratic race in April.
“I take all of these public polls with a grain of salt,” Joel Benenson, who was President Barack Obama’s pollster in 2008 and 2012, said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday showed Clinton’s favorability rating at 46%, while 50% of the 1,025 Americans surveyed said they view her unfavorably — her lowest marks in 14 years.
The poll also found that just 42% of Americans consider her honest and trustworthy, while 57% don’t. And three Republican contenders — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — are within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points when pitted head to head against Clinton.
That Benenson was addressing the new numbers at all was a sign Clinton’s camp is seeking to quell concerns about her strategy — and the cumulative effect of reports of her family foundation’s acceptance of foreign donations and her use of private email while serving as secretary of state.
“There’s a lot of frustration with politicians generally,” Benenson said.
He said some dip in Clinton’s polling numbers was expected as she made the transition from a popular former diplomat to a current candidate for office, and noted that her lead over all Republican candidates in head-to-head matchups remains intact.
Benenson also criticized the CNN/ORC poll’s methodology, saying women make up more of the electorate that the even split with men included in the survey.
“You want to treat it as the gold standard — I don’t think that’s what it is,” he said.
Benenson also said that Democrats have more paths to winning 270 electoral votes than Republican candidates — even if the GOP nominates someone from the key swing states of Florida, like Rubio or former Gov. Jeb Bush, or Ohio, like Gov. John Kasich.
And he said Clinton, whose campaign has so far featured carefully-scripted meetings with small groups and won’t hold its first large rally until June 13, will soon start to field more questions from the press that it has largely shut out since she declared her candidacy in April.
“I understand that people in the media want this to be a sprint every day,” Benenson said, “but the truth is a presidential campaign is a marathon.”