If Bill Clinton decided to challenge his wife for the Democratic nomination -- in an alternate universe America where term limits don’t exist -- he would lose in a landslide, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found Thursday.
The survey included less frivolous results, showing Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead over her closest rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with 51.5% to 21.5% as of July 21.
But the pollsters also decided to poll Clinton against a motley crew of fantasy candidates, to test Democratic voters’ satisfaction with their relatively limited options. While Republican primary voters are currently presented with a field of 16 candidates, Democrats’ only alternatives to Clinton are Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a onetime Republican governor from Rhode Island best known for his love of the metric system, and an ex-senator from Virginia who appears focused on winning that portion of the Democratic electorate that hates gun control and loves the Confederate flag.
But when asked to choose between Clinton and such famous Democrats as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Michelle Obama, Oprah, Jon Stewart and George Clooney, Democratic voters backed the former secretary of state in every match-up by wide margins.
Bill Clinton, the potential “first gentleman,” was the only fantasy candidate to outperform his wife’s real-life competition, but still trailed the Democratic frontrunner 26% to 51%. First lady Michelle Obama was Clinton’s next best competition, claiming 20% support. "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart earned 16% in his head-to-head match-up, just ahead of former Democratic presidential nominees Al Gore and Jon Kerry, at 15%.
Still, the poll did show that a portion of Clinton’s current supporters aren’t very enthusiastic about her candidacy. While 39% of Democrats said they would vote “enthusiastically” for Clinton, 21% said they would support her because she would be the most competitive candidate in the general election, while another 21% said they would “definitely not” vote for her.
Forty percent of Democrats said Clinton is a “great candidate” while a nearly equal number described her as “adequate.”
"I may not even vote because Hillary is the only decent Democrat," 62-year-old West Virginian Beth Grimes told the pollsters. "I don’t really like Hillary. She sways positions too easily."
But University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato told Reuters that Democrats will become more excited by Clinton’s candidacy once she secures the nomination.
"In this very polarized era, it's the opposition party that generates more enthusiasm -- the fact that you're not the other nominee, you're not the other party,” Sabato said.