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Hillary Clinton in 2016: Inevitable, again?

Hillary Clinton is widely popular among Democrats and they almost uniformly want run to run for president. But do they also want her to “clear the field” without other competitors, or do they still want to see primaries? A deeper dig into the new CBS News/New York Times poll suggests the latter. 

Clinton's would be by far the most-desired campaign at the moment (82 percent want her to run) but that's not to the exclusion of all others. Given a list of candidates to say "run," "not run", or no opinion, 53 percent of Democrats said "yes" to seeing a bid from at least one other, besides Clinton. By comparison only 29 percent of all Democrats picked Clinton exclusively of the candidates listed, without giving an affirmative to anyone else.

The others listed were Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md.; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Vice President Joe Biden, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y.

Biden, the second-most requested person in the poll, found Democrats overall marginally in favor of a bid from him, too. That includes Democrats who want to Clinton, specifically: They'd prefer Biden join the fray, too.
Importantly, for the other candidates, it isn't that Democrats said they ought not run. Rather, many people had no view one way or the other, in part because they did not know who these political figures were. 

That helps put this kind of poll in context politically, and shows the limits of it as a measurement at this early stage. Political junkies like us might speculate about 2016 now and then, but most people - in what is surely a credit to their sanity - really aren't focused on it. So a lot of what's captured in this is basic name recognition. That counts for something in politics, but is hardly determinative.

Case in point is the response to Warren in the poll. She has said she isn't running, but some political insiders wondered whether progressive Democrats might call for her, anyway. The data shows that idea remains, at best, one confined to insiders and the media: most Democrats simply don't have a view on her.

Finally, another point meant to serve both as caveat and context. In pre-2008 speculation, the field looked to many to be dominated by Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani. And in 2007, Clinton led then-Sen. Barack Obama comfortably in a direct preference among Democrats nationwide. Measures like today's are fun, and they may indirectly become somewhat self-fulfilling for other candidates thinking of getting in. But they aren't predictors. The calendar – and we all may get tired of saying this over the next year - does say 2014.

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