WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Neither her husband, nor George Clooney, Michelle Obama, Oprah or Al Gore would come close to challenging Hillary Clinton’s polling dominance for the Democratic presidential nomination.
While Republicans wrestle to pick a favorite among 16 candidates, Democratic voters - facing a far smaller field - strongly favor the former first lady and secretary of state, even when presented with a fantasy list of notables, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,033 Democrats.
Hillary Clinton remains head and shoulders above her legitimate challengers and would thump Bill Clinton in a head-to-head contest if the constitution were amended to allow him to run for a third term.
But potential “first gentleman” and former President Bill is the fantasy candidates who comes closest to his wife, at 26 percent compared with Hillary’s 51 percent.
The online poll, which has a credibility interval of 3.5 percentage points, looked at whether any Democrat - experienced politician or not - could pose a threat to Clinton in the primary race.
Oscar-winning actor and liberal activist George Clooney? Just 10 percent would vote for him.
Liberal darling and retiring “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart? Sixteen percent. Oprah? 11 percent.
Current First Lady Michelle Obama was second to Bill Clinton with 20 percent.
Former Democratic presidential nominees Al Gore and John Kerry were in the 15 percent range. California Governor Jerry Brown and Julian Castro, the U.S. secretary for housing and urban development and a former San Antonio mayor, lingered in the 6 to 8 percentage range.
Brittany Tomes, a 21-year-old university student from Levittown, Pennsylvania, said some characters in the poll’s “dream team” were unrealistic.
“They need experience of actually being in the government and handling those issues to be trustworthy,” Tomes said. “For the most part, people who are in television don’t really have that background.”
When it comes to the actual Democratic primary race, Reuters/Ipsos’ polling shows Clinton attracting 51.5 percent of Democratic support as of July 21 vs. 21.5 percent for Senator Bernie Sanders, her nearest opponent.
Thirty-nine percent of Democrats said they would “enthusiastically” vote for Clinton, while another 21 percent said they would vote for her because they think she would be most likely to win the presidential race in November 2016. Twenty percent said they would “definitely not” vote for her.
“This is a shrug of the shoulders,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, saying the less-than-full-throated enthusiasm reflects a “bubble-wrapped” and overly staged campaign.
Forty percent of Democrats said Clinton is a “great” candidate for president, while 39 percent described her as “adequate.”
Beth Grimes, 62, of Piedmont, West Virginia, said Clinton is the only Democratic candidate she has heard from so far.
“I may not even vote because Hillary is the only decent Democrat,” Grimes said. “I don’t really like Hillary. She sways positions too easily.”
If Clinton wins the primary, Democrats are apt to become more enthused about her candidacy once she is pitted against a Republican, Sabato said.
“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,” he said.
(For graphic on poll details, click on: reut.rs/1JydOW9)
Additional reporting by Alex Wilts; Editing by Leslie Adler