March 16th, 2014
08:30 AM ET
4 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. Steve

    Thank you Democrats but no thank you anymore. You gave us FDR and he killed 250,000 soldiers. You gave us Kennedy/Johnson and we lost only 68,000 men. Then you gave us Carter and all he did was allow Iran to take our people hostage. Then Clinton who bombed a factory in the muslim world and they got back by taking down two large buildings and hitting our Pentagon and anyone who thinks that is not in retaliation is a typical Democrat. Then you gave us jobs like a laser beam. Only thing on this guys laser beam is Beyoncé and his next $100 million vacation.

    March 16, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  2. ja

    Can we get the toll for people they helped kill? Who wins then?

    March 16, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Hillary Clinton is not all image and no substance. She has proven herself as a US Senator and Secretary of State. Republican Tea Party political leaders are well aware and fearful of her high poll numbers.

    March 16, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. ted

    "Tougher" (AKA "Opportunistic") is a type of posturing for domestic consumption only.
    "Intelligent" (AKA "Wise") is what's needed now (Remember Marshal Matt Dillon?).
    No need for "Lady Macbeth" ambitions.

    March 16, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. Obama

    Introducing the next president of these United States of America, Mrs. Hillary Clinton! She will be stronger, better and greater than any of the past president of the USA!

    March 16, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. zappo15

    Now more than ever the US needs a more competent president than Hillary Clinton, Paul and the likes. After Bush and Obama enough is enough. Time to get someone from either party who is not saddled with errors and extremist ideas and has a professional knowledge of foreign and domestic affairs and ability to administer with capable advisers.

    March 16, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. fedupwithamericanpolitics

    Bush was the Worst President in American History and Obama has now Caught up with him. Bush abandoned the People of New Orleans with Katrina and Obama abandoned the people of NY and NJ with Sandy. Both lousy presidents who only care about Wall Street Bankers and Major Insurance companies.

    March 16, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Bob

    For me, I cannot forget that Clinton voted for the Iraq war without bothering to read the intelligence herself. That, in my opinion, represents an example of total lack of responsibility, certainly to the people in uniform who had then to go and execute a misguided war, plus a remarkably casual attitude in regards her responsibility to her office at the time. People do not change, and that said she is a no go for me.

    March 16, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  9. Good Grief

    Leadership? She had one real shot at it as Secretary of States, and blew it big time. How many Bengazis would she give us as President? She was not clearly qualified for that office, let alone a higher one.

    I feel like liberal media are just using some kind of affirmative action checklist to come up with candidates. They have had their bi-racial president, now they want a woman, and then I suppose a gay president as a follow-up.

    Never mind actual qualifications or the impact on the nation. For liberals, what count the most is the progressive "symbolism" of it all.

    March 16, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  10. tafugate

    ms clinton is far more moderate than president obama. even though republicans are throwing as much mud as they can at her, she would be infinitely easier to deal with. ideally, republicans want their own guy (i say that because strong, intelligent women scare the heck out of them) in the white house. but they could do far worse than hillary.

    March 16, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. The Fact of the Matter

    Clinton's a tougher leader than Obama? LOL. The Pillsbury Dough Boy is a tougher leader than Obama. The real shocker is the numbers supporting our inept leader in the Oval Office.

    March 16, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. E..............

    Obama looks better in mom jeans...................

    March 16, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  13. mosinnagant2

    No more Clintons or Bushes. America is sick of dynasties.

    March 16, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  14. carlin123

    Of course she’s tougher. She lives with a serial rapist and routinely threatened the women he molested to keep the quiet. She’s the only first lady to be brought up on criminal charges. Proof of toughness but not of morality or leadership.

    March 16, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. Marion

    Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi........oops , my needle is stuck

    March 16, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  16. NorCalMojo

    Hillary would know exactly what to do.

    She'd fake another stroke.

    March 16, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. Name

    Wow, cnn, already starting with the polls, numbers...are you "starting the conversation" that Hilary started last time? Once was enough.

    March 16, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  18. alima

    Who's stronger? Who cares?

    March 16, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  19. Lizzie

    Then why did eveyone vote for Sen.Obama

    March 16, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  20. Bill

    Clinton tougher than Obama?

    That's a very low bar.

    March 16, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. CharlieH

    Not a big surprise.

    March 16, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. CC333

    She appears to be very strong but in reality she is very very weak. If she was strong she would of thrown her husband out on his rear and realized she deserved better then a cheating piece of nothing, even if he was the President.

    March 16, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. NO

    No more dynasty families. Vote Libertarian

    March 16, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. funkman

    Go for it Hillary , ... expose the GOP for what they are , ... a tired, old failed party with ideas that do not fit into todays world !!

    March 16, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  25. Ed

    In a poll which lists Obama at 50% for a strong leader and 53% for tough, you can only dismiss the overall results as propaganda.

    March 16, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
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