Americas

Should Bill Clinton Play Active Policy-Making Role as First Spouse?

More than half of Americans say yes

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- What role would the American public want Bill Clinton to play in the White House if his wife Hillary Clinton is elected president in November 2008?

A recent USAToday/Gallup poll asked Americans about Bill Clinton's possible role as First Spouse and found a slim majority of Americans saying they would like him to play an active policy-making role in his wife's administration. Americans were less supportive of Hillary Clinton having an active policy-making role in Bill Clinton's administration prior to his inauguration as president in 1993. The public is more likely to express worry that Bill Clinton would have too large rather than too small a role in his wife's administration, although the vast majority of Americans say neither scenario worries them very much. These results are essentially the same as Gallup measured about Hillary Clinton following her husband's election in 1992.

The Sept. 7-8, 2007, poll asked Americans if they would like to see Bill Clinton play an active role in policy-making in Hillary Clinton's administration. More than half of Americans, 53%, say they would like him to play an active role, while 44% say they would not. 

Gallup asked the same question about Hillary Clinton's role in husband Bill's administration following his victory in the 1992 presidential election. In December 1992, a plurality of Americans said Hillary Clinton should play an active role in Bill Clinton's administration. But, by January 1993, a slim majority of Americans said she should not play an active policy-making role in her husband's White House. 

The opinions of Republicans (including independents who lean toward the Republican Party) and Democrats (including Democrat-leaning independents) differ dramatically as to whether or not Bill Clinton should play an active role in policy-making in his wife's possible White House administration. 

Just 22% of Republicans would want Bill Clinton to play an active role in Hillary Clinton's administration, while 75% would not want him to play an active role. Democrats' views are nearly the mirror image -- 75% would want Bill Clinton to play an active policy-making role, while 23% would not.

The poll also asked Americans what scenarios would worry them more -- that Bill Clinton would have too large a role in Hillary Clinton's presidential administration, that he would not have a large enough role, or if neither worries them very much. Americans are slightly more likely to say they would worry that Bill Clinton would have too large a role in his wife's administration (22%) rather than not having a large enough role (10%). But most Americans (66%) say that neither scenario worries them very much. 

These results are very similar to Americans' views about Hillary Clinton's role in her husband's administration 15 years ago. In November 1992, 26% of Americans said they were more worried that Hillary Clinton would have too large a role in her husband's administration, 4% worried more that she would not have a large enough role, and 67% said neither scenario worried them very much.

Republicans express a higher level of concern than Democrats that Bill Clinton would have too large a role in his wife's administration. Forty-four percent of Republicans say they worry more that Bill Clinton would have too large a role, while 14% worry more about him not having a large enough role and 40% say neither scenario worries them much. The vast majority of Democrats -- 85% -- say they are not worried about the extent of Bill Clinton's involvement in his wife's administration.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,028 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 7-8, 2007. 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.

For results based on the 510 national adults in the Form A half-sample and 518 national adults in the Form B half-sample, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±5 percentage points.

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.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/28783/Should-Bill-Clinton-Play-Active-PolicyMaking-Role-First-Spouse.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030