As Senate Hearings Begin, Hillary Clinton’s Image Soars

by Jeffrey M. Jones

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll finds 65% of Americans saying they have a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton, the highest rating for her in almost 10 years.


Clinton had not had a favorable rating above 60% since 1999, after having been consistently above that level during the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to the impeachment but ultimate acquittal of husband Bill Clinton. That included Hillary Clinton's all-time high 67% favorable rating immediately after the House of Representatives voted to impeach the president in December 1998.

Since late 1999, Hillary Clinton's favorable ratings have been around 50%, ranging from a low of 44% in March 2001 to a high of 58% in February 2007.

The last measure in 2008, taken just before the Democratic National Convention last August and following months of a hotly contested Democratic nomination campaign with Barack Obama, was 54%. Since that time, her image has improved among most key demographic and political subgroups, but much more among women than men.


Interestingly, she has made nearly equal gains among Republicans (+12 points), independents (+9), and Democrats (+13), though Democrats continue to view her much more positively than Republicans.


Now President-elect Obama has tapped Clinton to be his secretary of state. Clinton's confirmation begins Tuesday, and she is widely expected to be confirmed.

Americans generally have a positive view of the kind of job she would do if confirmed -- a majority say she will be an outstanding (26%) or above-average (30%) secretary of state. Only 14% give her a negative evaluation.


Women are much more optimistic than men about how she will fare in her new job, with 66% of female respondents saying she will be an outstanding or above-average secretary of state, compared with 45% of men.

While close to 8 in 10 Democrats believe Clinton will be an outstanding or above-average secretary of state, only 25% of Republicans agree. But only 26% of Republicans think she will not fare well, with the plurality of 48% expecting her to be "average."



Hillary Clinton has been a national public figure for over 16 years, and her public image has waxed and waned during this time. She -- along with Obama-- is currently enjoying a wave of positive feeling as she prepares to become the next U.S. secretary of state.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,031 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 9-11, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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