Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
June 17th, 2014
11:21 AM ET
5 months ago

10 things our poll tells us about Hillary Clinton

Editor's note: What do you want to hear from Hillary Clinton? CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour moderates a CNN town hall meeting with Clinton and takes questions from the audience and CNN's event Tumblr at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Washington (CNN) - Do you have a positive impression of Hillary Clinton?

Do you think the former secretary of state will win the White House if she runs for president? And how excited would you be if she does run, and wins?

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A CNN/ORC International poll gives us some answers to those questions, and whether a President Hillary Clinton would do a good job in the White House.

Here are 10 things our survey tells us about the most polled person in politics today:

1. We liked her as secretary of state, but as a candidate..?: Clinton's favorable ratings have steadily dropped since she left the State Department, from 67% in March 2013 to 59% last fall to 57% in March and now 55%.

The drop was expected as Clinton transitioned from America's top diplomat to potential Democratic presidential candidate.

"Secretary of state is often seen as a non-political, non-partisan kind of job, and that showed in Clinton's favorable ratings while she ran the State Department," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "In 2011, her favorable rating was as high as 47% among Republicans. Now that she seems to be running for office again, her favorables among Republicans have plummeted to 18%."

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2. She gets trumped by her own family: Two-thirds of those questioned in our poll said they have a favorable impression of former President Bill Clinton. And he’s not the only Clinton who has a higher favorable rating than his wife. Daughter Chelsea Clinton's favorable rating stands at 59%, four points higher than her mother.

Of course neither Bill or Chelsea Clinton are running for office, and Hillary Clinton is seen by the public as a very likely presidential candidate. That means she's now seen through a partisan lens, something that inevitably drags down a public figure's popularity.

3. She would do a good job as president: Our poll indicates that if Clinton is elected, most Americans say they think she will do a good job handling crucial domestic and international issues.

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Clinton served as America's top diplomat during Obama's first four years in office, so it may not be surprising that some of her best marks in the poll come on issues beyond the U.S.: 63% say she would do a good job on foreign policy and 61% say the same on terrorism.

But it is notable that 63% say she'd do a good job handling the economy, and 57% believe she'd handle health care well.

4. Clinton tops Obama on every issue: According to our survey, the former secretary of state scores much higher than President Barack Obama on every issue the were asked about.

Just 38% questioned in the CNN poll say that they approve of how the President is handling the economy. That's 25 percentage points lower than the number who think Clinton would do a good job on the economy. Only 40% approve of Obama's foreign policy, 23 points lower than Clinton.

CNN/ORC Poll: Clinton tops Obama on every issue

The same is true on other issues that have made headlines recently, including gun policy, the environment, and immigration.

"A majority think Clinton would do a good job on all nine issues tested in the poll. Obama's current job approval rating never breaks 50% on any of those same nine issues. These numbers are helpful to her chances of actually getting elected if they hold up through 2016," Holland added. "It suggests that the President's low marks on most issues might not drag Clinton down if she runs for the White House again."

5. Benghazi still hurts: Much of the Republican political firepower directed at Clinton over the past year and a half has focused on the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Clinton oversaw the State Department at the time and ultimately took responsibility for the safety of diplomatic personnel.

Clinton testified last year about the attack in front of House and Senate hearings. But Republicans say there are still questions left unanswered. And the GOP-controlled House is launching another investigation.

CNN/ORC Poll: Majority dissatisfied with handling of Benghazi

Fifty-five percent of those questioned in the CNN/ORC poll said they have a negative view of Clinton's role in the incident, with 43% saying they are satisfied about she handled the attack.

While those numbers are nothing to brag about, Clinton fares slightly better than the administration. Only 37% said they are satisfied with the administration's response to the attack, with six in 10 saying they are dissatisfied.

6. She’s still the overwhelming frontrunner: Our poll indicates what just about every other national and state poll conducted over the past year and a half has indicated: Most Democrats say they would support Hillary Clinton if she runs for their party's nomination.

According to the CNN survey, 63% of Democrats and independents who lean toward the party said they'd most likely support Clinton as the nominee. That's virtually unchanged from CNN's May poll, but down from the seven in 10 Democrats who in February said that they would back the former secretary of state, senator and first lady.

7. Biggest intra-party threat comes from moderates: Conventional wisdom dictates that the biggest threat to a Clinton nomination from within the party would come from the progressive wing, and that any serious rival to Clinton would come from the left rather than the center.

But the CNN poll suggests that conventional wisdom may not be right. Twenty-percent of Democrats and independents who lean towards the party said they'd support a more conservative Democrat for the nomination, with 11% saying they'd back a more liberal candidate. Looking at the numbers another way: Nearly three-quarters of liberals picked Clinton over her hypothetical opponents. Among moderate Democrats, that figure dropped to 58%.

How enthusiastic are Democrats about Clinton as nominee?

Another indicator: Fifty percent of liberal Democrats said they would be enthusiastic about Clinton winning the nomination, but only 36% of moderate Democrats feel the same way.

8. Clinton wins 2016 showdown: Clinton has, and remains, the frontrunner in hypothetical 2016 general election matchups against possible Republican contenders.

Previous CNN polling and recent surveys from ABC News/Washington Post and Bloomberg indicate Clinton maintains large single digit to small double-digit leads over potential GOP candidates.

One caveat, of course: Take all this with a grain of salt - polls conducted more than two years before an election are dominated by name recognition. And that's something Hillary Clinton does not lack.

9. Is a Clinton 2016 victory a sure thing?: Just how inevitable is a Clinton victory in 2016?

More than three-quarters of all Americans say it's very or somewhat likely Clinton will win the Democratic nomination if she runs for the White House, and two-thirds say she is likely to be the next president if she is the party's standard-bearer in 2016, according to a our poll.

CNN/ORC Poll: Clinton 2016 victory a sure thing?

If she captures her party's nomination, just over three in 10 Americans say it's very likely she'll win the White House in 2016, with 36% saying it's somewhat likely, and 31% saying it's not likely. Eighty-two percent of Democrats, two-thirds of independents, and even 51% of Republicans say that if Clinton becomes her party's nominee, she'll win the presidency.

Sounds familiar, huh?

"We've gone down this path before. In 2008, 74% said that she would win the White House if she captured the Democratic nomination, but the then-senator from New York never made it that far," Holland said.

10. Where's the excitement?: Our poll suggests that Democrats may not be so enthusiastic about a Clinton 2016 victory. Forty-one percent of Democrats questioned said they would be enthusiastic if Clinton wins the nomination, with 42% saying they would be satisfied. One in 10 said they'd be dissatisfied and 5% said they would be upset. To look at it another way, only four out of 10 Democrats say they'd be excited to have Clinton as their party's presidential nominee.

One note though. The 41% who said they would be enthusiastic about Clinton as the nominee is slightly higher than it was in most CNN polling during her run for the 2008 nomination.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from May 29 to June 1, with 1,003 adults nationwide, including 481 Democrats and independents who lean towards the party, and 452 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Winemaker777

    Hillary is Obama 2.0. Twice the number of lies!

    June 17, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  2. DRJJ

    Honesty is the best policy and we can't trust her or her husband! Thanks for your service, we can do better.

    June 17, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. Jennifer

    I have to ask, why are you even doing a favourability rating for Chelsea Clinton? From an outsider's perspective, that's one of America's little oddities.

    June 17, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. Spgfld Tom

    The more Hillary talks (and gets fawning coverage by CNN) the more the voters are going to shy away.

    June 17, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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