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. TruthInAtl

    I like both presidents, but Clinton is nowhere nearly as tough as Obama. For Clinton, the country was nowhere near the state it was in right before Obama took office and we were not in multiple wars. Also, Clinton allowed Bin Laden to frolic, resulting in 911. We all know how that ended. Obama is deceptively tough. Furthermore, what is the point? Term limits will take him out in 16'.

    March 16, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. Dave

    yeah but all you liberals voted for Obama – twice !.... show's just how bright you all are !

    March 16, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. Bert

    And which potential Republican candidate would be a good strong leader right now who won't plunge the world into WWIII or complete anarchy? Anybody, anybody?
    Exactly....nobody!

    March 16, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. KLC

    Republicans are in trouble!

    March 16, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  5. Chris Asking Question

    Why is it important to compare the two now? The real question to ask and discuss is why she conceded the 2008 Democratic Party nomination, before the final vote at the convention. Would she have made a better President than Obama?

    March 16, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  6. dina

    Unfortunately most people are not able to recognize "toughness"without anger and aggression. President Obama is an intelligent president who works at a different level than most.He has a quiet style that Americans can't live with.American voters like to see more angry words and actions. They can't get this cerebral technique used by Obama.He is a smart man who has no use for aggression. We are not in a war now. We are bringing soldiers home. What more do you want. America does not have to act like a bully and neither does an American president. Bravo President Obama for doing it the way it should be done..A great President.

    March 16, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. Bill inVA

    Yeah. Just ask Bill. This is laughable. I don't think we have had a weaker President.

    March 16, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. SamB19

    I am Independent, but I cannot think of anyone better qualified than Hillary Clinton. Elected presidents spend the first year figuring out the operation of the west wing, but she already knows all that – she spent 8 years observing andlearning. That means she can get to work on day one to actually get things done.

    March 16, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    "Would she have made a better President than Obama?"

    We will soon find out.

    March 16, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. James

    Sounds about right. I'm definitely not a democrat, but I've always had far more confidence and respect for Clinton's leadership skills. It's a shame she wasn't elected instead of Obama.

    March 16, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. Aaron

    This poll is a waste of time and money. The poll sould be done after Clinton becomes president for five years. Compare sec of states vs sec states and president vs president.

    March 16, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Loathstheright

    The Republican racists, bigots, low IQ crowd is going to be very unhappy......again. They hate the black president, and now they will hate the woman president.

    March 16, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Rambo

    Americans have a positive view of Hillary Clinton's personal characteristics that in many cases has only improved , The Clinton's have always been Cheaters and Liars just to get what they want , this is the only thing that has improved.

    March 16, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. macilrae

    The other thing is that there are people trying to pull our strings too – Putin may not be a 'nice' personality but he is probably the right fellow to be running Russia. Our media hate him of course and they want you to hate him too – but if you put yourself in his position with the USA trying to contain Russia by surrounding them with NATO countries (Ukraine included, if possible) and setting up anti-missile installations in Poland (pretending they are for Iranian threats, give me a break!) – if you were in his position you might very well do as he is doing, mates! If you kick him, he kicks back – don't be so surprised.

    March 16, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    What kind of responsibility she now has to consider her as more stronger or tougher than Obama? I like Clinton but this Poll is just a nonsense. Should Obama decide to go Nuke with Russia as suggsted Palin? Does CNN forget that Ucraine is not a member of NATO?

    March 16, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. dinkydow

    hahahaha! OK, then riddle me this. Why didn't she beat Oblunder before? Bill just can't wait to get back in the White House to further his intern quest.

    March 16, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. Kenman

    And these bizarre "CNN/ORC" polls are tailor made for CNN's liberal propaganda agenda: they must be polling on UC Berkeley campus!

    March 16, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. anthny76

    Now who's the viable Republican we compare them too next? oh wait....

    March 16, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  19. Thomas

    Oh, good grief, my granddaughter is tougher than Obama.

    March 16, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. Olympic Eagle

    Well, I guess there is always George W. Bush to think about and his past and current presence on the world stage (compared to Bill Clinton).

    March 16, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Independent Thinker

    Lol! A comparison between the 'If you like your plan...' liar, and the Bosnia/Benghazi liar! How could we pick worse leaders?

    March 16, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. Jack Owens

    Do not forget the BIG REPUBLICAN ECONOMY + WAR mess that was handed over to this President and on top of that NO SUPPORT given to the President
    I know the President must have not done a great job, but if you have the courage provide positive inputs and show if your ideas stick to the wall & then talk all these bull-crap

    It's easy to criticize, but if you have the courage then stand-up and fix it. You freak REPUBLICANS

    March 16, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. scranton

    Well of course Hillary is tougher than Obama. Hillary should of been the president but was thrown under the bus for unqualified candidate because of his race and good looks. What an empty suit.

    March 16, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Javier

    All any Democrats has to do is LIE and STEAL and their Brainwashed Sheep will Follow.... Baaaaa

    March 16, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Robin Jones

    Not exactly news. Even Jimmy Carter was tougher than President Obama.

    March 16, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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