Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
June 17th, 2014
11:21 AM ET
6 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?

CNN Town Hall: Hillary Clinton's "Hard Choices"

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%."

5 things to watch in Hillary Clinton's CNN town hall

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.

What Clinton says, Clinton memes

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. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    So our right wing media is trying to force Hillary into stating her intentions.... Now I see why so many Hillary stories. They want us to get tired of seeing her and embrace the 🐖🐖bully....

    June 17, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. it must be said

    The sad reality for Hillary Clinton is that the far left progressive/socialist/communist Democrat Party does like Hillary Clinton because she isn't a far left lunatic like most of the Demorcat party.

    June 17, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    No doubt all this Hillary coverage is meant to stir up lack of viewership overall and bring interest back to levels seen in 2008. That CNN has to use Hillary as a means speaks loud and clear that GOPerville, for all intents and purposes, can't manage (even with 6-8 potential candidates) to stir any interest whatsoever.

    Not looking good, GOPerville. Not looking good for you side at all.

    June 17, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Blah Blah Blah. She still was wrong on Iraq and Obama was right on it. Don't get it twisted though. I'd vote for HRC over anyone in the republican field hands down.

    June 17, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. You Got It

    In 2008, 74% said that she would win the White House if she captured the Democratic nomination. She did not win the Presidency – and today only 60% say she would win.
    All I hear about is how she's going to run again – but she has even more baggage to carry now than before w/ Benghazi, Boko Haram, Howard Gutman, Cheryl Mills, etc. If you don't know who those last two people are, then you don't know jacksquat about Hillary Clinton.

    June 17, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. Thomas

    Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Meaning: A woman rejected in love can be very angry and dangerous.

    This would be on the list of concerns at the Republican He Man woman haters club convention this week in Mobile, Alabama.

    June 17, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. Dead Bear

    @it must be said... Do us all a favor and pull your tin foil hat down over your mouth. You're just bitter because she'd whoop any one of the right wing whackjobs your collection of morons posing as a political party will nominate.

    June 17, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. Silence DoGood

    @You Got It
    In 2008, 74% said that she would win the White House if she captured the Democratic nomination. She did not win the Presidency – and today only 60% say she would win.
    All I hear about is how she's going to run again – but she has even more baggage to carry now than before w/ Benghazi, Boko Haram, Howard Gutman, Cheryl Mills, etc. If you don't know who those last two people are, then you don't know jacksquat about Hillary Clinton.
    ---------
    Clinton started Boko Haram? Now that is a new Consp.Theory!

    June 17, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. Sniffit

    It's like CNN is in active labor. Push...puuuUUSH....PUUUUUUUSH!!!!! PUSH OUT THAT NARRATIVE!!!!!

    However, if you forget to breathe, I don't think I'd mind.

    June 17, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. just asking

    she has nothing now, she had nothing in 2008, which is why a guy with nothing could beat her. she pranced around the globe on a taxpayer funded 4 year vacation. her tenure at the state dept. is remembered for the disastrous failures of benghazi and the infamous russion reset.

    btw hillary, have they found that $5 billion at the state dept. yet? after 8 years of the obama nightmare, the country can't risk its future with another leftist democrat.

    June 17, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Democrats ran two very powerful candidates in 2008: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Obama won the nomination in 2008, and then went on to defeat John McCain.

    John McCain lost the nomination to George Bush in 2000, beat Mitt Romney for the nomination in 2008, and was defeated by Barack Obama in 2008.

    Mitt Romney won the nomination in 2012, and was defeated by Barack Obama in 2012.

    Could Hillary Clinton have won against John McCain and/or Mitt Romney? Absolutely.

    The (Republican) opposition party is ... well, filled with opposition - and offers very little else. Certainly nothing of substance.

    June 17, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  12. Chris-E...al

    Where do the Clintons even live now anyway ? Beverly hills New York or D.C. ? I wonder if they even visit the very poor state of AK anymore to check up on old friends ?

    June 17, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. salty dog

    Wonder what those same people would say about the gop candidates, nah, don't bother, I'm reminded of root canal, and endoscopy.

    June 17, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    @You Got It
    In 2008, 74% said that she would win the White House if she captured the Democratic nomination. She did not win the Presidency – and today only 60% say she would win.
    -----------
    Do you even read what you write? Or is this another example of conservative logic?
    Since she didn't win the nomination, so we did not get to see the 74% prediction get tested.
    But let's take more science and critical thinking out of school, right religious conservatives?

    June 17, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. salty dog

    The gop needs a good strong flush. I'll be happy to help, see you in November.

    June 17, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. Say WHAT???

    When is she going to start running against the current occupant in the White House and the mess he is leaving the country in? Record unemployment for 5.5 years and counting, record debt, VA in a shambles, the world on fire (oops, Hillary helped set it on fire, gotta avoid that one), the invasion on our southern border, the IRS targeting people and groups, etc.

    Oops, she'd have to run against Democrat Obama and his failed policies. Now that isn't going to fly. I can hardly wait to see what kind of smoke and mirror show she cranks up. Let me guess... she will run against George Bush!! Just like Obama had never, ever been President. (true in so many ways)

    June 17, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. Thomas

    The suspected ringleader in the September 2012 raid on a US diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead has been captured, the Pentagon has said.

    Ahmed Abu Khatallah was taken into custody in a secret US military raid in Libya on 15 June.

    Darrell Issa / Louie Gohmert 2016
    The Truth takes time ?

    June 17, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    @just asking
    she has nothing now, she had nothing in 2008, which is why a guy with nothing could beat her. she pranced around the globe on a taxpayer funded 4 year vacation. her tenure at the state dept. is remembered for the disastrous failures of benghazi and the infamous russion reset.

    btw hillary, have they found that $5 billion at the state dept. yet? after 8 years of the obama nightmare, the country can't risk its future with another leftist democrat.
    ------------–
    To be clear, I think the tin foil memo requires you to mention "sick and brain disease" when you refer to "benghazi".
    And possibly birth certificate and Area 51.

    June 17, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. salty dog

    Just: I think its with the billions in cash that haliburton stole, I mean lost, lmao, say it with us, madam president, too funny. Wake up, I'm in jacktown, guess what I saw at lunch, fresh asphalt on the road, yippie. Thanks master Snyder.

    June 17, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. Ol' Yeller

    Oh look.... breaking news...
    "U.S. forces working with law enforcement personnel captured a key suspect in the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, the Pentagon announced today.

    Libyan militia leader Ahmed abu Khattalah was captured Sunday, according to a statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

    Khattalah is now being held in a location outside Libya, Kirby said.

    Last year, federal prosecutors filed sealed charges against Khattalah over the Benghazi attack, in which scores of militants using rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons attacked the compound. Khattalah's arrest is the first in connection with the attack."

    Obama appears to have gotten the bad guy... AGAIN! While the righties just want to criticize, point fingers, and try to find something wrong, our President continues to do dilligent work to keep us safe and bring the bad guys to justice, while his predecessor seemed only interested in what profits he could put in his and his cronies pockets.

    Thank you Mr. President for continueing to do a wonderful job in protecting Americans and bringing criminal's to Justice. It is why I voted for you twice, and given the opportunity, would vote for you again.

    I'm sure the righties will now begin a tirade on how we should let this guy go because Obama is violating his civil rights or other such nonsense. Not one of them will give this Administration credit for their hard work and dilligence in catching this criminal... Just like Hillary said we should focus on. Good to see a Government that actually works and NOT one that just invades whatever country 'threatened to kill their daddy', as opposed to the actual perpetrators of these terroristic acts.
    Way to go President Obama!!!!

    June 17, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. Silence DoGood

    @Ol' Yeller
    Oh look.... breaking news...
    "U.S. forces working with law enforcement personnel captured a key suspect in the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, the Pentagon announced today.

    Libyan militia leader Ahmed abu Khattalah was captured Sunday, according to a statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

    Khattalah is now being held in a location outside Libya, Kirby said.

    Last year, federal prosecutors filed sealed charges against Khattalah over the Benghazi attack, in which scores of militants using rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons attacked the compound. Khattalah's arrest is the first in connection with the attack."

    Obama appears to have gotten the bad guy... AGAIN! While the righties just want to criticize, point fingers, and try to find something wrong, our President continues to do dilligent work to keep us safe and bring the bad guys to justice, while his predecessor seemed only interested in what profits he could put in his and his cronies pockets.

    Thank you Mr. President for continueing to do a wonderful job in protecting Americans and bringing criminal's to Justice. It is why I voted for you twice, and given the opportunity, would vote for you again.

    I'm sure the righties will now begin a tirade on how we should let this guy go because Obama is violating his civil rights or other such nonsense. Not one of them will give this Administration credit for their hard work and dilligence in catching this criminal... Just like Hillary said we should focus on. Good to see a Government that actually works and NOT one that just invades whatever country 'threatened to kill their daddy', as opposed to the actual perpetrators of these terroristic acts.
    Way to go President Obama!!!!
    ----------
    Thanks – good comment.
    Right wing come back: "What about his birth certificate????"

    June 17, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Ahmed Abu Khattala(Benghazi Attacker) has been captured by U.S. Special Forces in Libya.

    June 17, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Just: I think its with the billions in cash that haliburton stole, I mean lost, lmao, say it with us, madam president, too funny. Wake up, I’m in jacktown, guess what I saw at lunch, fresh asphalt on the road, yippie. Thanks master Snyder.

    😃😃😃😃😃 it's about time! But I thought they said the decision would have to wait until after their summer break.... Oh well it's still good news.😊😊

    June 17, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Ol' Yeller stop trying to distract the public from the real scandals including what Benghazi was called and the IRS from doing their jobs! You lefties are a trip!! 😍😍😍😍

    June 17, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    You Got It

    In 2008, 74% said that she would win the White House if she captured the Democratic nomination. She did not win the Presidency – and today only 60% say she would win.
    --------------------------–
    Uh, you didn't get it. She didn't win because she didn't capture the Democratic nomination, which you expressed as a condition for her winning the White House.

    Don't you folks even listen to what you say? I see the hypocrisies and contradictions as signs that you're just saying anything that pops into your head at the moment. You're reciting stuff without knowing what it actually means.

    June 17, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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