Karlyn Bowman, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, recently drew attention to Hillary Clinton’s standing on the question of “cares about the needs and problems of people like yourself” compared to how Democratic candidates have traditionally fared on this.
While “cares about people like you” has been the subject of different surveys and asked in different forms since Gallup raised it in Sept. 1976, there is no single specific question on this subject that has been asked consistently.
Nonetheless, Bowman suggests the data suggests “Democratic candidates almost always end up doing better” on empathy and compassion questions that do Republicans with the exception of 2000, when George W. Bush was competitive with Al Gore on this dimension for most of the campaign. Most Republicans fare as Mitt Romney did in 2012, losing to Barack Obama on the question “cares about people like me” by 63 points.
That’s why it is significant that Hillary Clinton does so poorly in this area compared to other Democrats and her numbers are getting worse.
By comparison, in an Apr. 2012 CBS/NYT survey, 34% said Mr. Obama cares “a lot” about “the needs and problems of people like you” and 28% said he cares “some,” while 20% said “not at all” and 17% “not much.” The combination of Mr. Obama’s “care a lot” and “cares some” was 14 points higher than his “not at all” and “not much” combined score. Mrs. Clinton’s positive marks are 2 points high than her negative ones and there are nine points more who say “not at all” than say “cares a lot.” Being so weak on this dimension could be a real problem for her if Republicans nominate a candidate who can exploit it.