March 16th, 2014
08:30 AM ET
7 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. nuclear mike

    I thought you said "Mr." Clinton not Mrs. Clinton....

    March 16, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  2. meatheadFred

    CNN – comparing 2 really big piles of crap and recommending which is the best pile of crap... thanks but no thanks

    March 16, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  3. Spgfld Tom

    Any way you look at it Hillary is going to be nothing more than Obama Lite (in a pant suit).

    March 16, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  4. cfd

    Like going from bad to worse

    March 16, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  5. Stephen W. Vasil

    So this "poll' states that Clinton could "handle" the job of president? For goodness sake, she couldn't handle the job of Secretary of State!

    March 16, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  6. bence

    Clinton hands down

    March 16, 2014 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  7. barbara

    I think Obama is just as ruthless but in a less overt way.

    March 16, 2014 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  8. Just

    Many words should never be used in the same sentence as Obama. Some would be tough, competent, trustworthy, ....

    March 16, 2014 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  9. Marie MD

    If it's anything like real life my vote is on Hillary.
    Men think they are tough. Women ARE tougher! Physically (try having a baby guys) and even emotionally because when somebody wrongs somebody we love we fight back not with our fists but with what counts our brains and that causes more havoc and pain at times.

    March 16, 2014 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  10. Steve

    And of those polled in this again mionor number of people were Democrats ( maybe 100%) as far as leadership just about anyone would be better then the current and obviously leaders of other countries do not respect him if they ever did and by association they do not respect the USA either- Hard to respect someone or a country when their word means nothing and they spend more time appologizing bowing and campaigning then they do governing for what is best for the people not what they want the people to have to do

    March 16, 2014 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  11. Ron

    HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT!!!!

    March 16, 2014 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  12. Zeke

    It is obvious that Putin knows who is tougher. He plays Obama like a cat plays with a mouse. Hillary may be about the same, but we know that Obama is weak in dealing with international issues. Putin and the rest of the world know that too.

    The problems in Syria, Iran and now the Crimea are due to the dithering and fear from Obama of being in the spotlight and making a mistake. He cannot bear to think that he would be responsible for any major decision where criticism would be forthcoming on his decision.

    He has no leadership skills, only when he can use his "Pen".

    March 16, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  13. John

    It's hard to tell who's tougher. They both had a chance to step up after Benghazi and they both declined to exhibit any leadership on the issue whatsoever.

    March 16, 2014 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  14. Jeff

    Wow, camparing one apple to another, the only difference is which one is more rotten? They're both rotten!

    March 16, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  15. Paul Cooper

    Sure she is. But then so is the teenager manning the drive-thru at the local McDonald's. Or a wet tissue. Tough is something Obama only plays at. He folds every time it actually matters.

    March 16, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. larry

    CNN needs to ask themselves what good is this poll...and I would expect this poll coming from fox news than CNN. Shame on you for this stupid poll. I hope President Obama or any democratic president never appears on CNN.

    March 16, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. Gurgyl

    The question should be who is worst in Republicans–ans: All.

    March 16, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  18. meki60

    Doesn't not matter, both are equally bad.

    March 16, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  19. tatangb

    If the survey is accurate, then, naturally, the first five respondents here would belong to the noisy and dismayed minority.

    March 16, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  20. Frankly

    People are morons, what are we expected to do start the 3rd world war to stop Russia on Crimea. Are you people serious tough and stupidity go hand and Gand.

    March 16, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. Rob

    Give it up CNN. You are like pathetic schoolgirl cheerleaders for your extremist candidate!

    March 16, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  22. Bobbo

    Where exactly are these polls conducted? At Hillary's house?

    March 16, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  23. Michael Elliott

    To tell you the truth I am pretty sure Mrs. Clinton would have done a fine job as president.

    March 16, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  24. Jan Nappylotto

    One is a liar and the other one is a liar...

    – landing under sniper file in Bosnia

    – you can keep your policy, your doctor

    – it was just a spontaneous group of protestors upset about the YouTube video. It wasn't a group of highly armed militia executing an assault plan that killed an Ambassador, Obama got to go to Vegas instead of dealing with the situation and ObamaBots ate it up like candy. Hillary pushed the cover-up.

    March 16, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  25. truth hurts but reality bites

    Dumb and dumber, one just as inexperienced and incompetent as the other. Hillary Clinton polls higher because she has only touched upon her inexperience and incompetence with Benghazi and the infamous Russian Reset. Given the same time, she would have the same numbers as Obama the Incompetent.

    March 16, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
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