Americans Like Hillary Clinton a Lot Less Now Than When She Was Secretary of State

The politician’s favorability ratings have steadily dropped since she left public office last year.

Hillary Clinton testifies on October 27, 2011.
National Journal
Marina Koren
June 11, 2014, 5:08 a.m.

Most people like Hil­lary Clin­ton.

They’ve named her as their “most ad­mired wo­man” 18 times. And her fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ing, which has dropped 5 points since Feb­ru­ary, re­mains pos­it­ive, ac­cord­ing to a new Gal­lup Poll.

But Amer­ic­ans liked Clin­ton a lot bet­ter when she was sec­ret­ary of State, be­fore she be­came a speech-giv­ing ci­vil­ian who’s toy­ing with the idea of run­ning for pres­id­ent.

At 54 per­cent, Clin­ton’s cur­rently fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ing is the low­est since Au­gust 2008. Back then, the politi­cian was prep­ping for her speech at the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Con­ven­tion en­dors­ing Pres­id­ent Obama.

Dur­ing her en­tire time as sec­ret­ary of State, Clin­ton’s rat­ings were con­sist­ently over 60 per­cent, av­er­aging about 64 per­cent. Re­pub­lic­ans thought little of her after the 2012 Benghazi at­tack — among this co­hort her rat­ing dipped be­low 41 per­cent — but re­mained high over­all. Her rat­ings only began to drop off when she left pub­lic of­fice last year.

Amer­ic­ans also liked Clin­ton slightly less when she served in the Sen­ate between 2001 and 2009, draw­ing rat­ings between 40 per­cent and 50 per­cent. The tail end of her Sen­ate years co­in­cided with her pres­id­en­tial run, so the later num­bers may be a bet­ter re­flec­tion of how much Amer­ic­ans liked her on the cam­paign trail.

But none of these are as bad as the rat­ings Amer­ic­ans gave Gal­lup when the polling group first began ask­ing them about Hil­lary Clin­ton. In 1992, when she was the first lady of Arkan­sas, 39 per­cent of people viewed her fa­vor­ably, 26 per­cent un­fa­vor­ably, and 35 per­cent said they didn’t know who she was or had no opin­ion about her. Her highest rat­ing ever, 67 per­cent, came just six years later, dur­ing the heart of im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against her hus­band dur­ing the Lew­in­sky scan­dal.

The Amer­ic­an pub­lic def­in­itely knows who Hil­lary Clin­ton is now — es­pe­cially this week, as the me­dia and pun­dits alike fol­low, dis­sect, and ana­lyze the first week of her book tour. 

The Gal­lup Poll shows that as Clin­ton be­comes more polit­ic­al, her sky-high pop­ular­ity takes a hit. As she con­tin­ues to build to­ward a po­ten­tial 2016 run, more and more Re­pub­lic­an cam­paigns against her will crop up, likely fur­ther drag­ging the num­bers down. The ques­tion now is, how far will her rat­ings dip — and wheth­er they will reach her fa­vor­ab­il­ity num­bers at the time of her 2008 pres­id­en­tial race.

To gauge Clin­ton’s cur­rent stand­ing, Gal­lup sur­veyed by phone a ran­dom sample of 1,027 adults, ages 18 or older, across the coun­try between June 5 and June 8. The mar­gin of er­ror was plus or minus 4 per­cent­age points.

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