PRINCETON, NJ -- Hillary Clinton lost the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, but in one respect she now ranks ahead of Obama. The president's current favorable rating of 56% is down 22 percentage points since January. Over the same time span, Clinton's favorable rating has changed little, and now, at 62%, it exceeds Obama's.
The results are based on an Oct. 1-4 Gallup survey. The poll was conducted before Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner, which could have helped to improve his favorable rating over the 56% measured in the poll; however, it's not clear that any such shift would have lasted. In the first days after the prize's announcement, Obama's presidential job approval rating noticeably increased, but it has since retreated to its prior level.
"Clinton's current favorable rating ranks among her best in the 17 years Gallup has polled Americans about her."
The change in the relative popularity of Clinton and Obama since January may reflect the realities of their new roles. Obama came into office as president with a 78% favorable rating, among the highest Gallup has measured since it began tracking favorability in 1992. But after nearly nine months in office in which he has made or confronted difficult decisions -- ranging from the economic stimulus package, to the auto industry bailout, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to health insurance reform, Obama's support has declined. His favorable rating now stands at 56%, and has fallen 10 points just since the last reading, in July. (Obama's job approval rating has followed a similar downward trajectory.)
The 56% favorable rating for Obama is his lowest since late 2007, when he had a 53% favorable rating, but at that time, 13% of Americans did not have an opinion of him. The current 40% unfavorable rating for Obama is his highest, and thus his most negative such rating to date.
Meanwhile, Clinton has helped advance Obama's foreign policy around the world, but in a far less prominent role than the president's. Now operating in a much less bright spotlight than Obama does, the former first lady's and U.S. senator's favorable rating remains strong at 62%, little changed since she became secretary of state.
Clinton's current favorable rating ranks among her best in the 17 years Gallup has polled Americans about her. Her highest favorable rating of 67% came in late December 1998, just after her husband, President Bill Clinton, was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Partisan Views of Clinton and Obama
Clinton and Obama are about equally appreciated by Democrats -- 91% currently have favorable opinions of Clinton and 89% have favorable views of Obama. They fare about equally among independents, but Republicans have more positive views of Clinton (35%) than of Obama (19%).
Republicans' more positive views of Clinton relative to Obama mark a reversal since January, when Republican ratings of Obama (60%) were much more positive than those of Clinton (35%). Thus, Obama's favorable rating has declined 41 points among Republicans since January, while Clinton's has not moved at all.
Independents' opinions of Obama have also soured, from 75% favorable to 52%. There have been only minor declines in Democrats' opinions of Obama.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,013 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 1-4, 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 ±4 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.