A new poll, taken in the aftermath of James Comey’s inexplicable decision to not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton over her grotesque disregard for even a modicum of concern about safeguarding top secret information, shows that the public is just as mystified by this decision as were those following the case.
A majority of Americans disapproves of the FBI‘s recommendation not to charge Hillary Clintonwith a crime over her handling of email while secretary of state, and a similar number in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say the issue leaves them worried about how she’d handle her responsibilities as president if elected.
Most also say the email controversy won’t affect their vote choice in the presidential election. But more say it leaves them less rather than more likely to support Clinton, 28 percent vs. 10 percent.
Reaction to the decision is highly political, with partisanship factoring heavily in people’s views. Yet Democrats don’t back Clinton up on the issue nearly as much as Republicans criticize her, and independents side more with Republicans.
Overall, 56 percent disapprove of FBI Director James Comey’s recommendation not to charge Clinton, while just 35 percent approve. Similarly, 57 percent say the incident makes them worried about how Clinton might act as president if she were elected, with most very worried about it. Just 39 percent feel the issue isn’t related to how she’d perform as president.
In my view, there are two takeaways here.
First, James Comey gave a warm, wet kiss to Donald Trump’s campaign in making an object point of what Trump has been campaigning on: the system is run for the benefit of the powerful and rigged against the average citizen. If someone in Trump’s campaign had gotten the chance to write Comey’s statement, assuming that anyone on Trump’s campaign has opposable thumbs and the ability to write, they would have written very much what Comey delivered. To the extent that Comey was trying to preserve the FBI’s reputation for independence, his press conference had rather the opposite effect. It showed the FBI to be just as susceptible to political influence as any other federal agency.
Secondly, Comey’s gift is going to have an impact on the election. If one eliminates Republicans and Democrats as partisan hacks who are firmly wedded to their candidates, independents are moved.
Most independents, 58 percent, say the issue won’t influence their choice, but those who say it’s made them less likely to support Clinton far outnumber those who say it’s made them more apt to vote for her, 33 vs. 5 percent.
Keep in mind that 58% who say it will have no influence on them includes a large number of people who have already decided to vote against a Clinton presidency.
Far from head nodding agreement that, yeah, the Clinton’s are corrupt, the public seems to be drawing the correct conclusion: Hillary Clinton represents a clear danger to the United States. Were Donald Trump a man with even average political skills, this would be a turning moment in the campaign. But he isn’t. In fact, given what we have seen, he may actually be able to make the American people forget about this incident and wax nostalgic for the days of Hillary Clinton in the White House.