"Hillary Clinton’s numbers reflect her standing after more than two decades of constant character assassination, whereas Republicans haven’t even begun to go after [Bernie Sanders]." - Paul KrugmanThis morning, Paul Krugman was the latest to invoke a recurring argument for Hillary Clinton, insisting that her "numbers reflect her standing after more than two decades of constant character assassination, whereas Republicans haven’t even begun to go after" Bernie Sanders. I'm baffled why anyone would even float this argument, much less find it persuasive. We don't have to speculate about what Hillary's decades in the public eye have done to entrench her popularity - the polls are completely straightforward:
If there were anything to Krugman's theory, you would not expect Hillary's numbers to fluctuate much in either direction, since her opponents have already done everything they can to her. Instead, in just the past five years alone, her numbers have bounced over a 36-point range, from 69 to 33. Is that the absolute, it-can't-get-any-worse ground floor that Clintonites are appealing to? Because if Democrats can't win more than a third of the country, they will lose.
There are all kinds of ways in which this sort of rhetoric grossly oversimplifies the complex factors that contribute to a candidate's popularity over time - but you don't have to know any of them to prove Krugman wrong. All you have to do is look at what Hillary's numbers are actually doing.
That's just one of many reasons why people are calling him a hack. Krugman looked at Clinton's falling numbers, and then decided to argue that her numbers cannot possibly fall. Nothing about his political evolution over the years or his personal rationalizations for doing this can make this argument any less ridiculous than it demonstrably is.