January 23, 2013
As she heads to Capitol Hill this morning to testify regarding the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton has something her former legislative colleagues lack: the broad support of the American public.
Fully 67 percent of all Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll now express favorable views of the outgoing secretary of state, a record high in the survey for Clinton, albeit by a single percentage point. By contrast, just 19 percent of people said they approved of the way Congress was doing its job in a Post-ABC poll released last week.
Clinton has nearly unanimous support from fellow Democrats — 91 percent — in the new poll, also a career best. She also scores a gaudy 65 percent approval score among independents and more than one in three (37 percent) of Republicans believe she is doing a good job. That’s more than double the number of Republicans who approve of the way President Obama is doing his job.
Republican antipathy toward Clinton has declined significantly in recent years. As recently as April 2008, 84 percent of Republicans said they had unfavorable views of the then-candidate for president. At the time, that number included 70 percent of Republicans who held “strongly unfavorable” impressions. Now, fewer than half that number — 32 percent — have intensely negative views.
The modest Republican support for Clinton comes as she prepares to testify today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The issue has galvanized many Republicans who have called for more transparency from the Obama Administration about what they knew and when they knew it.
The congressional Republicans aimed at quizzing the former first lady, however, are weighed down by low ratings. In the previous Post-ABC poll, just 24 percent offered approval of the way the GOP members of Congress were doing their jobs. Moreover, only 39 percent of Republicans gave positive marks to their own party’s representatives; 58 percent said they disapproved.
Clinton’s popularity not only dwarfs those of congressional Republicans but are also significantly stronger than those of Vice President Joe Biden, who, like Clinton, is mentioned as a possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.
Overall, 48 percent view Biden favorably, and 37 percent see him in unfavorable terms. Those numbers mark a bit of a revival for the vice president, who had slumped to an even score (43 percent favorable; 43 percent unfavorable) in advance of the party nominating conventions over the summer.
Some 65 percent of political independents have favorable views of Clinton; 42 percent see Biden in a positive light. Clinton also draws far better among Republican women: GOP women divide 45 to 48 percent on Clinton, but break decidedly negative on Biden, 20 percent favorable, 70 percent unfavorable. Republican men are overwhelmingly negative about both potential Democratic contenders.
Biden also remains a far less-well-known figure than is Clinton in some key groups. More than a third of Hispanics express no opinion of the long-time Delaware senator, as do about one in four of those aged 18 to 39.
The poll was conducted January 16 to 20 among a random national sample of 1,033 adults. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.