March 16th, 2014
08:30 AM ET
9 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. Get Real

    So WHERE were all these STRONG opinion voters BACK in 2008???

    March 16, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    Women, just vote Hillary16.

    March 16, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  3. Johnny 5

    Both Obama and Hillary are rabble rousers and tyrants. Toughness is being confused with the creation of fear.

    March 16, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. sharkusg

    It's a shame we got so caught-up in history making (the first black president somehow trumped the first woman president) because we clearly chose the wrong leader.

    March 16, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. sharkusg

    It's a shame that we collectively got so caught-up in history making (the first black president just somehow trumped the first woman president) because we clearly choose the wrong leader.

    March 16, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Ken

    She's a criminal that already knows how to cover her trail, no wonder the DNC thinks so highly of her.

    March 16, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  7. DarqueSide

    Since Obama isn't running in 2016, how is this really relevant? Maybe they should have done the poll with a few Republican contenders in the mix. Stupid poll.

    March 16, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  8. J anthony

    Thank u commenter dave, it is refreshing that there are others capable of seeing the big picture and thinking beyond the surface of things

    March 16, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. Alan

    Well if she is so strong, so tough, and inspires so much confidence, why didn't they vote for her during the primary in instead of Obama? Oh that's right the only thing she wasn't was black. Based on this pole from CNN that is the only reason he is sitting in the White House. So now your "runner up" is getting propped up for a potential presidential run. She was not the right choice in 2008 but somehow now after being secretary of state "a job she quit" after plunging Libya, Egypt into chaos and being unable to deal with Syria or Iran now let's put her in charge? She was not good enough in 2008 and nothing has changed.

    March 16, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Peace

    @oharris30
    I agree with you that Putin is a nut and a dictator and Pres. Obama shouldn't take that path. I have a feeling the Malaysian plane which is missing landed in Russia. Putin is waiting to pull out his demands to the world once sanctions are in place. This man has gone ballistic and he is playing everyone of us around.

    March 16, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. sls.oh.sd

    Hilary has my vote n i'v not ever voted before but i'm gonna this round i sat back n watched other folks help DESTROY our Country n put people out of work . . she has the knowledge and yes the Men now are afraid to say yes to her but give her the HIGH Seat she deserves . . she should of had that Seat n not Obama WHO's not even from the USA . . he doesn't Salute our FLAG . . Hillary is American Made she DESERVES her chance to prove up all right that we know she'll do right by us n Lead us in the right direction . . Hillary for PRESEDENT . .

    March 16, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. J Robinson

    Clintons have bought and paid for the next presidency, but what if it wasn't for sale? I know. Who could imagine that..

    March 16, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. rla

    NO MORE FIRST FAMILIES or long term legislators– Vote them ALL out next election! You want things to change start calling DC and get in the face of your reps!

    March 16, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. Lizzie

    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.
    Glad you could blame something on Pres.Bush, but got to disappoint you, it was Mayor Nagin and the Gov, of LA fault, they wanted no outside help. People where ready and waiting outside New Orleans to help, but Mayor Nagin was in Baton Rouge and refused to let them help. Both where DEMOCRATS.

    March 16, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Me

    In hand to hand combat Hilary would win

    March 16, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Me

    I am an I dependent woman. I will never vote for any Clinton

    March 16, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. Military Vet

    She is a DINO – a democrat in name only. Her actions show she is actually a Republican. She will NOT get my vote. She is like McCain, she will take us to war at any chance she gets just to show how tough she is...we need Hillary like we need butt implants. What the country needs is a real Progressive Presdient willing to take us into the funture instead of dragging back into the past.

    March 16, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. Aaron

    This kind of polling is useless. If you wanna compare Obama and Clinton, wait till she becomes president for five years and do the polling. We are not stupids!

    March 16, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. Dan

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA – You liberals wanted it, and now you got it.

    March 16, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. macilrae

    So far as Obama is concerned we must fear that he will feel pressure to 'act tough' – and a weak/indecisive person trying to act tough is not a pretty sight – ask all those women who are married to one.
    And for Hillary – judge her by her performance as Secretary of State: she is pure ambitions politician with no qualifications to manage the economy or foreign policy – she is Bill's wife and she has carefully crafted an image around a vacuous personality. But, really, it hardly matters who is elected President because it is a Disneyland process and the successful candidate can only get there if the ones pulling the strings decide they are manageable.

    March 16, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  21. dajowi

    She was the first lady. She was nothing but Obama's political appointee after he won the election. She wasn't qualified to be the Secretary of State. She isn't qualified to be president.

    March 16, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  22. DC Johnny

    Let's make history again. Because that worked out so well the last two times.

    Vote for Affirmative Action over executive experience. It's time to make this world a fairer (translation: worse) place at all costs.

    March 16, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  23. dennis galloway

    What's so good about "tough"?

    Putin is tough.

    March 16, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. Gunderson

    Well, So,
    Anybody that would mistake a Secret Service Agent for a bag boy and then proceed to treat him like dirt is pretty tough! But I digress. What difference does it make !!!

    March 16, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Mystery

    Why don't you do a relevant poll like why did Bush blow up the towers

    March 16, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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