America Is Ready to Elect Its Fourth-Most-Popular Recent First Lady as President
Two new polls offer good news for Hillary Clinton. A majority of Americans want her to run in 2016 and most people don't see her gender or husband as disqualifying.
Two new polls tossed onto the already putrefying pile of 2016 surveys offer good news for Hillary Clinton. A majority of Americans want her to run in 2016 and most people don't see her gender or husband as disqualifying. Hell, nearly a fifth of people under the age of 30 think Clinton's not even 50 years old. Good news all around.
Pew Research talked to 1,000 adults to get a sense of how the public felt about the former First Lady. In 2008, more than a third of respondents thought her gender was a disadvantage. Now, it's only a fifth — and it doesn't change significantly based on the respondent's political party. Republicans are more likely to see her involvement in the Clinton administration as a negative, but even three-quarters of them think it's not important or even an asset.
The area of the most concern among voters was Clinton's involvement in the Benghazi attack while Secretary of State; 15 percent of respondents were most concerned about the attack. Twelve percent saw her tenure in that position as her strongest asset.
Perhaps doing a little bit of trolling, Pew asked people whether or not Clinton was likeable, echoing one of the more famous moments from the 2008 Democratic primary season. Only 34 percent of respondents declared Clinton "hard to like" six years later. Unlike on other personality points — if she's "tough" or "has new ideas" — men and women were generally agreed on Clinton's likability. (Nearly 70 percent of people think she's tough; about half that she has new ideas.) Three times as many Republicans as Democrats consider Clinton unlikeable, as you might have expected.
One of the most interesting data points was that one about Clinton's age. People between 18 and 29 figured that Clinton was between 50 and 59, though 16 percent thought she was under the age of 50. Republicans were more likely to consider Clinton older than Democrats, which may, in part, be linked to the overlap between age and party affiliation.
The surveys come as attention to a possible Clinton candidacy continues to mount. Politico ran two stories on Tuesday dedicated to Clinton. The first considered Clinton's legacy on Ukraine as a U. S. senator and then as the point person for President Obama's interactions with Russia as Secretary of State. The second was a column from Roger Simon raising the en vogue question of whether or not Clinton is tough enough to handle Putin, if she has to, which she may, if she runs and wins.
The presidency of Hillary's husband overlapped with Putin's by a year, from 2000 to 2001. Which highlights Clinton's unusual position. At the same time as the Pew poll was released, Gallup published a survey of perceptions of Michelle Obama. The current First Lady is liked by two-thirds of Americans — a figure that's been consistent for about three years — and is significantly more popular than her husband. But Gallup also contrasted Obama's average approval ratings with those of former First Ladies Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, and, of course, Clinton. And that's the order in which they're liked: Barbara, Laura, Michelle, and Clinton.
Hillary Clinton: Unpopular First Lady; popular presidential candidate. She'll probably take it.