March 16th, 2014
08:30 AM ET
8 months ago

CNN Poll: Who's tougher: Clinton or Obama?

Washington (CNN) - Americans have a positive view of Hillary Clinton's personal characteristics that in many cases has only improved with time, and on some key measures of toughness and leadership skills, she scores higher than President Barack Obama, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday indicates that most Americans consider the former secretary of state likable, honest, compassionate and admirable. Sixty four percent say she is tough enough to handle a crisis - 11 percentage points higher than the President. And an equal 64% describe Clinton as a strong and decisive leader - 14 points higher than the President.


Clinton gets her highest marks (68%) on likeability, and that number is up five points since 2007, as her 2008 bid for the White House was getting underway. Fifty-six percent say she shares their values - up six points from 2007. And 56% say she is honest and trustworthy - up five points.

But Americans also think she can handle the job of President. Nearly six in ten say Clinton can manage the government effectively, 55% believe she can get the economy moving again, and 61% say she has the right experience to be president.

If there is a weakness in the 13 items tested in the poll, it is the number of Americans who say they would be proud to have her as president. At 50%, it is the lowest score that Clinton received in the poll, and it is down seven points since her failed presidential bid in 2008.

"Obviously, there are big partisan divides on Hillary Clinton with most Republicans reluctant to say anything positive about her, and that suggests that views of her personal characteristics may sour once a presidential election gets underway. But right now, Clinton has a reservoir of goodwill that would be the envy of any potential presidential candidate," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Americans split on President as a leader

As for Obama, a majority of Americans say that the President is not a commanding presence on the world stage - 57% say that leaders of other countries no longer respect Obama.

Among the U.S. public, views of Obama's leadership skills are split right down the middle. Half think Obama has been a strong and decisive leader, with an equal 50% saying that description does not apply to Obama. There is also a roughly 50/50 split on whether Obama inspires confidence.

"Neither of those are great numbers for President Obama, but they represent a slight improvement over his standing in November, suggesting that the situation in Ukraine has not hurt his standing with the public," Holland added.

Fifty-three percent say he is tough enough to handle a crisis. The President gets his best ratings on likeability - 77% say he is likable - and his worst marks on his ability to manage the government.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International March 7-9, with 801 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


Filed under: 2016 • CNN/ORC poll • Hillary Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. JPTuck

    Scary poll – to say that a piece of rice paper is tougher than a wet noodle.....

    March 16, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. victor

    cant wait for hillary to run this country and turn it back up shes all we got left everyone else is a bunch of old rep thinking big money in their pockets shes the most qualified person to ever run for president since her husband did she will make all those other fools look silly shes going to make a great president she doesnt even have to sweat it you go girl

    March 16, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. Cliff Robeson

    Our country will continue to fall apart if either Republicans or Democrats are elected again by the sheep.

    March 16, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. I told you so

    You gotta be kidding. Hillary likeable? She is a crafty, professional politician. But likeable? I don't think that word applies here.

    March 16, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. PoppaMT

    I would have to say that out of all this article ranted about likability is the most important. Remember back in high school when voting for prom king and queen? No one is going to vote for anyone they do not like unless they dislike the alternative so much that they feel it necessary to vote against them, in which case you are voting just to keep that one from winning!

    March 16, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. Juspassinthru

    Those of you that think Killary would make a good president....take off the blinders please. We have many GOOD Democrats that are far better than clinton will ever be. The last time we had a clinton in office, the end result was 9/11. His and his predecessors lack of definitive action against our sworn enemies cost 3,000+ lives.
    So far Killary has only cost us 4 lives (that we know of). Do you really want someone as president that has very little regard for their fellow man/woman. She has demonstrated many times she could care less about the average guy/gal in America. Enough of the lip-service puppet politicians. NEW CANDIDATES, NEW IDEAS, not an old worn out power hungary narcissist.

    March 16, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. New york

    All the fools trying to bait President Obama in wars when he's trying to end one in Afghanistan need to realize that theirs a reason he's president and their not!

    March 16, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Scott

    She is absolutely tougher but they are both committed to running this country to ruin.

    March 16, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. Sage

    Clinton is so tough she left Americans to die in Benghazi then said it didn't matter.
    She's so tough she has committed crimes all her life but has never been prosecuted.

    March 16, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. Nick

    Obama specifically avoids showing anger as he doesn't want to be perceived as an "angry black man." He really is in a no-win situation, as many white people would see him in an even more negative light if he tried to project toughness. Look at the reaction to Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, when he sounded angry in the post-game interview after the Seattle win over San Francisco. He was called a thug and all kinds of other names, not for hitting someone, but for SPEAKING words in an angry manner.

    March 16, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. GTS58

    Compared to Obama – the "Pajama Boy" is tougher!

    March 16, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. BigdaddyUSA

    Peewee Herman is tougher than Obama.

    March 16, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  13. Simplefaith

    President Obama has a compassionate heart and wants peace more than adversity. He grew up in Hawaii where people enjoy good weather, lots of sports and respect for others because of the small islands that we share. You cannot hold this against the President. Tough guy? Too bad the world cannot appreciate this type of man. The world would be a better place.

    March 16, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. DH

    Any dem black or white has more smarts then any repub.

    March 16, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  15. DJohnston

    Clinton knows the score, and she'll be able to deal with the Teahadists. Obama naively believed that the GOP loved their country more than they hated their black president.

    March 16, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. Joe C

    The purpose of this poll is to push the voters into making another mistake; instead this time you won't be voting for a weak leader, you be voting for a strong one who has no conscience, and cares nothing for anything except her family legacy and political career.

    March 16, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. boomgen

    liberals cant afford their own healthcare and think a year on unemployment isn't long enough, that's the kind of people liberals are

    March 16, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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