There are probably many reasons that Hillary Clinton's numbers are going down in the nation's polls, but the growing scandal surrounding her use of a private email server "has got to be" at the top of the list, University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said Thursday.
"Democrats by and large tend to defend her, but she is running for president," Sabato, who heads the university's Center for Politics, told Fox News' "Happening Now"
program. "'It is pretty obvious that Joe Biden, and to some degree, Bernie Sanders are because the concerns about Hillary Clinton have been growing."
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And the email controversy is the main item dominating the headlines where Clinton is concerned, said Sabato, and it's leading Democrats to wonder if "she can be an effective nominee for the party."
Sabato said there is about 20 percent of the public normally paying attention to the early race, and most of these are political activists. However, with high profile stories like the email scandal for Clinton, or the rise of Donald Trump, more people are paying attention than usual to the race.
But Biden is being presented as the "non-Clinton alternative," even though he hasn't announced his candidacy, Sabato said, and there are many people saying they're for Biden while meaning they really have concerns about Clinton.
"Joe Biden has been around long enough to know that you are never as popular as the day before you announce as president," Sabato said. "Then you start going downhill. They start playing your old gaffes and goofs and problems, and Joe Biden has a long political career and a lot of those."
Last week, Sabato announced
that he believes there are five Republican candidates who have a real shot at the Republican nomination: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. In the same report, he dubbed Trump "unnominatable," but said Thursday that his choices just haven't "caught fire."
"A perfect example was last night, when Donald Trump had tens of thousands of people at a raucous town meeting, and just down the road Jeb Bush had, let's put it kindly, a sedate town meeting," said Sabato. "It was like a prelude to people having an excellent night's sleep, and that is the problem right now for the Republicans. They are just not turning the base on."
But there are months to fix the problem, said Sabato, as "we are nowhere near the general election of 2016. We all act like the election's next week but that's a long time away, and a hundred major things will happen to shake things up."
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