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. Anonymous

    I hear them compare Obama to Clinton all the time. There IS no comparison just another way of demeaning Obama. Obama is well qualified, the problem no one can get into his head. He knows who his enemies are, the ones who constantly STAB him in the back, demean, disrespect him. For one thing he is street smart, knows more about different cultures, people, political issues all over the world, has traveled/lived in different countries of the world. He has more knowledge, smarts than any other POTUS. The situation in America today is totally different than when Clinton was in office/ Under Clinton came NAFTA, GAT, free trade, the replacement of Glass-Steagall with Graham-Leach_Brilley. I say STOP COMPARING. All you haters are trying to do is, as usually make Obama look bad. That's all it's about, you can't compare all things were different. Clinton was a womanizer, was impeached, called slick Willie. I voted for him, I'm a Democrat. The Dems have always given the working/middle class some crumbs but the party of the wealthy (GOP/TP) take and want it all. They love money more than people. I call it greed, the desire for power & control of the world.

    March 16, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. quinLee

    What's the point of this poll? Other than providing fodder for the giggly right nutcases, it provides no useful information. BTW- what are the numbers using the same category for any of the GOP/Tea Party/Libertarian (...did I leave any out) folks?

    March 16, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. lmori

    Now watch how dems are gonna start painting Clinton more favorably to Obama because Obama can't get re-elected.
    Oh yeah, Obama wasn't really that good, Clinton will be much better.

    March 16, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. Miguel

    So why again did all you liberal vote for Obama?

    So your got your black President – feel better now? Lets' get back to looking at competency next time.

    March 16, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. lol

    If she sleeps with her intern, will she be praised like Bill or scolded?

    March 16, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Bill

    Think she had her shot at showing how tough she was as Secretary of State. We all know how that went. There is nothing to separate her "toughness" from Obama's. She was part of the same administration. If you like what you got for the last 8 years, vote for her. She is ideologically the same.

    March 16, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Tony in STL

    Cool! I guess this is even worse news for the GOTP! Our President has performed brilliantly!!! Hillary '2016!

    March 16, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Keith

    If the Republicans have anyone I can vote for I will not vote for Hillary. From the looks of things there will not be a good Republican candidate. So, who in the Republican party is a champion of the working class, who has voted for consumer protections, who has not joined the xenophobic rhetoric on immigration, who didn't vote 40 times to repeal Obama care, who believes that a person that works for a living should receive a living wage? I won't make it hard, if there is a Republican like that, he has my vote.

    March 16, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. Rasheem

    It's funny how in America who ever has the biggest mouth and waves their fist is the toughest. I'd be more concerned about the quiet methodical person.

    March 16, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. bo

    Obama never fainted, got a blood clot, had a stroke and resultant brain damage.

    March 16, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. mickinmd

    I voted for Hillary in the 2008 primary. Obama did not inspire confidence in me. He did push through a step toward the universal health care the rest of the advanced world has had for decades, though political corruption means it's not a great system. He got bin Laden. He managed to limit the spread of terrorism without getting us bogged down in another war whose only long-term result would be to drain U.S. resources.

    March 16, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Mike in SA

    Clinton's the one who gave us the whole "reset button with Russia" thing. Little did we realize that she was resetting relations with Russia back to Prague in August 1968. Not sure how she can be seen as "tougher" on Russia.

    Her record as Secretary of State has been nothing short of catastrophic and now she wants to be in charge of everything...including our military? No thanks.

    March 16, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. billy_bob

    clinton is also a failure – just read about benghazi and then listen to her answers in front of congress. she should have been prosecuted for failure to act upon clear warnings from the ambassador in libya.

    March 16, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. Semper Cogitatus

    There are people who think Obama is tougher than Clinton?

    March 16, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. dave

    Moderate democrats are about the same, Obama, Hillary, both moderate democrats, about the same. On trade and the use of supply side economics, the major economic issues, moderate democrats are about the same as right wing erxtremists, and all the republicans are right wing extremists. Any way you go you get about the same, no difference on major economic issues, so you get about the same economy, the same gradual decline. The differences come with the lesser issues, the ones that are not that significant, you can't break them all down here, but it's about the same, no real changes for the masses, just the nohingness to campaign on, to dupe the easily duped. As the article describes, it becomes a popularity contest, nothing to do with real issues, an election about nothing.

    March 16, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. lividemerald2013

    Hillary is "likable, honest, compassionate and admirable"-you have got to be kidding! People who have this impression of her are clueless, and no nothing about her personality or her past.

    March 16, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. lnchudej

    A marshmallow is tougher than Obama so it's not that praiseworthy to be considered tougher than Obama. Hilary Clinton as President will govern in the same way Obama has "governed" and I use the word loosely in describing Obama's administration. Right or wrong I'm ready for a completely different kind of President and members of Congress who have some intelligence. Enough already of wishy washy men & women! Enough already of sending billions to foreign countries while cutting benefits to our veterans. Use common sense in governing our own country-just for a change from the past 8 years.

    March 16, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. Bill inVA

    Anonymous – You say Obama is well qualified. Only in the sense that he met the age and citizenship requirements. And in that is technically about all you need. But for him, that is about where it ends. Never had a real job. Never governed anything. Accomplished nothing in the Senate. Traveled the world? Who cares? Just passed through life, kind of like Chance the gardener. The only hope I see for the country is that they may be getting smarter. Obama won by a smaller majority in his reelection. The electorate just hasn't gotten smart enough fast enough. But I will give Obama credit for learning on the job. He finally realized asking for an increase in the debt ceiling is not a failure of leadership (Just show he really didn't know much about leading). He renewed the Patriot Act. In fact adopted a lot of the Bush stuff he criticized. Continued and defended the NSA stuff. But he and his team have shown they still don't get the world stage. Romney was criticized for saying Russia was a geopolitical foe. Heck, even Palin got that right.

    March 16, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. tonedeaf

    One comment folks. let's all ask ourselves who Christopher Stephens thinks is tougher ?

    March 16, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Nick (EMS paramedic)

    George Bush (on his 'buddy' 'Puttie-put' as he called him) – “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.” Bush got it half right. He got it all wrong on WMD and Iraq, knows he allowed draft-dodging neo-con war mongers to usurp his Presidency, and now spends his days painting goofy self-portraits as though he could somehow reshape himself, and his 'legacy' on canvas. McCain goes to Kiev and can't even promise emergency assistance as members of his own Party of Loons have tied it to IMF reforms. BTW, his A4 Skyhawk was downed over Hanoi by an enemy that received advance intel of USAF raids from signals intel stolen and sold to the KGB (who employed Putin) by John Walker a former American naval officer now serving a life sentence.

    March 16, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Marey Dillion

    Lets face it. Currently we have a very weak, wimpy, President.
    Hillary Clinton, may be many things to different people, but she is very tough, capable.
    She would take charge of the Crisis in Crimea and Syria.
    She would not be afraid, to confront the Russians.
    She would not be wishy-washy like are current President is on many issues.

    March 16, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. anniegamache

    In the words of Hillary herself, "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?"

    March 16, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. jackson

    So setting up Clinton has begun. What a corrupt country we have become!

    March 16, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Andrew

    So why did we elect the wet blanket? People got too caught up in proving they weren't a racist.

    March 16, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. concern

    Unortunatly two terrible presidents in a row, she would have to be an improvement

    March 16, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8