When it comes to the current political environment, Hillary Clinton couldn’t ask for much better. The president sits at a 50 percent approval rating. Gas is just a little over $2. A new income and poverty report released on Tuesday by the Census Bureau showed that median incomes rose 5.2 percent in 2015. A two-term president and his White House are untainted by scandal – an anomaly in recent decades marked by Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky and Iraq. To be sure, things are far from perfect. Voters remain anxious about their economic and physical safety and stability. And, it's clear that the rebounding economy still has yet to be felt equally. Even so, the headwinds pushing on Clinton are much lighter than most expected she’d face a couple years ago.

Yet, even with these advantages, the race has tightened. The reason: Clinton has created her own headwinds. It's been a terrible couple of weeks for Clinton. Instead of boosting her case, she's been defending her "basket of deplorables" comment, her poor handling of her abrupt departure at the 9/11 memorial service,

More from the Cook Political Report

Four Possible Leaders; Four Unenviable Tasks
National Politics
Photo of Charlie Cook
First Person
Cook Politcal Logo
Where History Rhymed and Where It Didn’t
National Politics