A Majority of Americans View Democratic Presidential Front Runner Hillary Clinton Favorably

But Her Numbers Are Already Starting to Take A Dive

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Democratic Party Presidential Front Runner Hillary Clinton

By Glynn Wilson –

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Hillary Clinton takes the national stage as the early front runner in the presidential election of 2016, a majority of Americans, 54 percent, view her in a positive light, according to the Gallup Poll’s latest favorability rating survey.

As she goes around the country and makes the rounds of talk shows publicizing her new memoir, Hard Choices, and the media starts talking about her in political terms and the Republicans start finding ways to criticize her, however, her favorability rating may take a fall. It has already started to dive.


Gallup found her favorability rating at 59 percent in February, and as secretary of state, her numbers were consistently above 60 percent — until the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, when Republicans went on the attack against her.

“Though Clinton has said she will not announce whether she’ll run for president until at least later this year, her latest book has been widely framed as a preamble to another presidential bid and a move typical of White House hopefuls,” Gallup says in its analysis of the situation. “Clinton already has the support of many elected officials and Democratic Party representatives if she chooses to run. Americans have named her their Most Admired Woman 18 times.”


Clinton’s current favorability rating is the lowest it has been since August 2008 (54 percent), when she was preparing to deliver a speech at the Democratic National Convention endorsing then-Senator Barack Obama, who defeated her in a hard-fought primary battle for the party’s 2008 presidential nomination.

After recovering from a contentious Democratic primary race that strapped her with campaign debt, Clinton’s favorability rating soared while she served as secretary of state during President Obama’s first term. As many as two-thirds of Americans, 66 percent, viewed her favorably in 2011 and 2012.

The highest rating reported by Gallup of 67 percent came in December of 1998, shortly after she stood by her man, President Bill Clinton, when the Republicans in Congress tried to impeach him during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

In her role as secretary of state, Clinton enjoyed extremely high ratings from her fellow Democrats. But because of her performance, her ratings increase among Republicans rose as well. She peaked with Republicans during this period in mid-2012, when 41 percent viewed her favorably.

“As Democratic elected officials continue to encourage her to run for president, her name has become further politicized, thus making her less favorable to non-Democrats,” Gallup says.

Political Liabilities

Republican operatives and conservative media pundits have publicly questioned whether her health and age could hinder her ability to serve as president. She is 66. Additionally, the House of Representatives has formed a select committee to investigate the attack in Benghazi.

“And as she wades into Obama’s controversial decision to trade five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, Clinton’s performance as one of Obama’s top cabinet members will likely undergo greater scrutiny,” Gallup says.

Bill Clinton’s Effect on Hillary’s Image

Bill Clinton, who in the same poll receives a 64 percent favorable rating, has commanded majority favorability from Americans during most of his time as president and in post-presidential life.

While some may view his high favorability ratings as an advantage for Hillary if she decides on another presidential run, Bill’s favorability did take a hit when he joined her on the 2008 campaign trail. By January 2008 — a year after Hillary announced her candidacy — his favorability hit a five-year low of 50 percent, barely ahead of Hillary’s 48 percent at the time.


Their latest favorability ratings are separated by 10 percentage points and, with the exception of a 12-point difference in March 2007, are as far apart as they’ve been since Hillary independently entered the political fray as a candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York.

During Hillary’s first term as New York’s junior senator, her favorability was closely linked to that of her husband. But for the first three years of her second term, from 2005-2007, their ratings differed by five to 12 percentage points. Then, in early 2008, when Bill became a proxy campaigner for Hillary in her bid for the presidency, his favorability fell and their ratings converged.

Gallup’s Bottom Line

“Hillary Clinton’s era of higher favorability appears to be ending even before she announces whether she will run for president. Americans typically rate non-political figures higher than political ones on this measure, and her favorable ratings before, during, and after being secretary of state are consistent with that phenomenon,” Gallup concludes in its analysis of the numbers. “Though her husband’s influence is far from Hillary’s greatest selling point, he may be better positioned to help her on the campaign trail than he was last time, with his favorability up five points from what it was in mid-2006. But if Hillary does run, the boost she receives from him may be limited if it is similar to 2008, with his past favorability so closely married to her own in the backdrop of a presidential campaign.”

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 5-8, 2014, with a random sample of 1,027 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.