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. wjm980

    People will always like to think that those who have not been in the Presidency will be stronger than those currently in the position. Oftentimes (as in the case of Obama) they are sorely disappointed. Hillary will be no different.

    March 16, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. peterz

    Politically attempted poll during the Crimea crisis?

    March 16, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. oharris30

    It's not about being a bully. just look at Putin. he now looks like a fanatic. President Obama looks very dignified and is following the laws of nATO. he is no push over. We should not go to war because of some nut like Putin. Putin is a dictator. if Obama acted like Putin the repubs would find something else to complain about.

    March 16, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. One one

    High score on likability ?

    March 16, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. 1776usa2016

    Hilary is smarter and tougher than anyone we've seen in a long time.

    .

    March 16, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  6. rabbit

    You poll only those with a land line. You have to update that. And she laughed. and you know what, diplomacy is preferable to "tough" – because our main export to the rest of the world should never be tears.

    March 16, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. v1cious

    As long as it's not a Republican, I'm happy.

    March 16, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Jim

    How can anyone NOT think Obama is tough? He lectures everyone!

    March 16, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. citizen5

    Neither are statesman. They are simply politicians trying to further their personal agenda or that of the Democratic party. One day, maybe this country will elect a statesman that is concerned about the country's long term. Maybe one day, we will elect a statesman that says "ask not what this country can do for you, but what you can do for this country." Unfortunately, the Democratic party has convinced many Americans that Uncle Sam owes them a living (welfare, food stamps, earned income credit, free cell phones, etc)

    March 16, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. doorknob

    Fake a stroke? Really? Living with a serial rapist? Thank god we are in a country that gives us the right to say some of the dumbest statements and not be thrown into Siberian. Wow. I guess that this is the lively and courteous discussion that CNN welcomes..

    March 16, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. Dave

    Wow... Obama had the US in four simultaneous war fronts...without a plan to pay for any of them. I can't imagine what folks might mean by Hilary "being tougher"...What do you think is going to happen? Five war fronts without a plan to pay for them? Are we wanting to try for six?

    As corrupt and vile as US politics can be... and as easy as it is to blame the politicians.. Americans could not vote themselves out of a burning building...and even thinking about returning the criminals to the scene of the crime with another 4 years proves it.

    We KNOW how the DemocratsandRepublicans rule... and yet we are going to choose between them...again.

    March 16, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. Hill

    And John McCain said Obama made America look weak. This coming from the man who said after GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and the real estate bubble sent the stock market down 4K points that the fundamentals of the economy are sound.

    March 16, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. He's A Chronic Liar

    Also polling as "tougher" than Obama – Jay Cutler, Roberto "No Mas" Duran, Richard Simmons, Johnny Weir, the Powder Puff girls, and Charmin toilet tissue.

    March 16, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. Shaktilori

    I don't believe these telephone-based surveys much anymore since as far as I know they are never conducted by mobile phone and almost no one I know has a landline anymore (and in fact for years). They are probably excluding everyone under age 30 and therefore, I think Obama would get much higher marks if this were a real survey sampling the general public.

    March 16, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. OldCrankyVet

    Pretty low bar for comparison. I'd put over 90% of the USMC & Army NCOs that I have ever had the honor to work with better leadership & decision making skills that the current President AND the presumed 2016 candidate. They fight. They take care of their own. They DO NOT abandon the fighting force when needed, as both BHO & HRC have done.

    March 16, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. rla

    Thanks liberal/progressives for not having a clue in the last two elections! Too bad you voted Racial guilt and the belief that a man of color has intellect because of that color.... Progressive guilt and their failed ideology -including Hillary - will collapse the country if they are elected again....

    March 16, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. lmc3

    Yes, she is tougher than Mr Obama. She is politically astute. She is smart. She is also willing to say or do anything to attain or retain a position of power.

    March 16, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. Anonymous

    "We KNOW how the DemocratsandRepublicans rule... and yet we are going to choose between them...again."

    Nah. We're gonna go out on a limb and pick the Rand Paul whimpiest of all rhetorical dreamers. What do we have to loose but America itself under a Rand Paul administration filled with long term tinfoil hat conspiracy theories put to the test.

    March 16, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Melissa

    I like Hilary, especially since she's the wife of Bill who was a great President (in spite of the affair). She's obviously learned alot of things from him. I didn't, however, like the way she behaved during the last election which is why I didn't support her. She was acting just as badly as her opponents were. Obama was not. While I have my own issues with Obama (he tries to be much too neutral, and I have a very large problem with his ideas on immigration), at least he didn't behave like a child and never has. He's very classy and dignified, even in the face of the re th ugs swearing that they would do anything they could to destroy him when he was first elected (and they've been working for it ever since while most of the American public has been falling for it like good little slaves).

    March 16, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Rich

    Dora the Explorer is smarter than Obama. NO Hilliary. No more "first" It's going to take years to clean up this mess.

    March 16, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  21. william reed

    Obama has a tough skin, having endured some rough treatment by right wing crazies in and out of Congress. Hillary is tough minded. So is Obama, only quieter.

    March 16, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  22. Cynthia Avishegnath

    I am in a huge dilemma.

    I am pro-life but yet I am pro-planet: Whom should I vote for?
    So far pro-life politics have been largely anti-conservation.

    I am pro-gay but yet pro-gay politics are largely pro-choice.
    Whom should I vote for?

    I am pro-Israel, yet the Democrats have been less enthusiastic with Israel, and the T-totallers are worse in their denial of Israel.
    Whom should I vote for?

    I believe good standing citizens should have unimpeded ownership of guns, yet I strongly support stringent verification and regular reverification on the status of a citizen being of good standing.
    Whom should I vote for?

    I distrust unions because they are largely untrue to their cause
    – they make sure legislation exists that ensure a contentious relationship between unions and employers.
    – they are often unaware that their demands bankrupt their employers and hence lead to unemployment.
    – their agreements with their employers frequently have clauses against retraining and so it is a policy impediment for employees to upgrade their skills under union rules.
    – well, they are largely pro-choice and anti-gun
    But yet unions are the strong proponents for diversity and planet conservation.
    Whom should I vote?

    Why can't Republicans be pro-planet? Isn't pro-conservation part of being pro-life? Why can't Republicans be pro-gay? Why can't Republicans be pro-education funding? Which would make my choice a lot easier.

    March 16, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. Bill

    My brother's uncle's husband's sister is tougher than Obama.

    March 16, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. Stang05

    President Obama looks very dignified. So does a statue.

    March 16, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. TTMalloy

    You know, I often wonder how important "toughness" would be if the DRAFT was in effect, like it was in Vietnam?

    March 16, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
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