PRINCETON, NJ -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's favorable rating from Americans is now 66%, up from 61% in July 2010 and her highest rating to date while serving in the Obama administration. The current rating is just one percentage point below her all-time high rating of 67%, from December 1998.
Clinton's record-high rating came shortly after the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton on charges of perjury related to the Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones investigations, matters that engendered Americans' sympathy for the first lady. However, her subsequent entry into electoral politics -- first as a U.S. senator from New York, and later as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination -- made her a more polarizing figure, and her favorable rating descended at times into the 40s.
Since Gallup began measuring Clinton's favorable rating in 1993, there have been several instances when Americans viewed her more unfavorably than favorably -- one as recently as February 2008. However, more than 60% of Americans viewed her favorably in all three measures Gallup has taken since she assumed her State Department job, and she scored 65% in January 2009 just prior to President Barack Obama being sworn in.
The latest results are from a March 25-27 Gallup poll conducted while the United States was actively involved in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, a policy Clinton reportedly advocated. The same poll finds Clinton rated more positively than other top administration officials. Obama receives a 54% favorable rating, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, 52%, and Vice President Joe Biden, 46%.
Clinton Well Liked by Women
Clinton enjoys extraordinary popularity among women, and particularly women 50 and older. She also receives support from a solid majority of independents and 40% of Republicans.
Underscoring that views of Clinton and Obama are not one and the same, Clinton is seen in a favorable light by 45% of those who separately say they disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president. Naturally, she is also viewed favorably by 89% of those who approve of Obama's job performance.
Clinton's Predecessors Also Popular
Clinton is largely following in the footsteps of two well-liked female secretaries of state who came before her -- Condoleezza Rice, who served former President George W. Bush during his second term; and Madeleine Albright, who served during former President Clinton's second term. Rice's favorable ratings ranged from 59% to 63% (according to Gallup measurements conducted in 2005 and 2006) and Albright's from 61% to 69% (between 1998 and 2000).
However, Clinton's popularity does not approach that of Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state in George W. Bush's first term. Powell's favorable ratings were consistently above 80%, ranging from 83% to 88%.
With a 66% favorable rating from Americans, Secretary of State Clinton is more popular than the president, more popular than the vice president, and more popular than she, herself, has been for much of her time in the national spotlight since 1993.
Clinton's popularity may be partly due to the nature of the secretary of state position, which is somewhat above the fray of partisan politics and focused on defending U.S. interests globally.
Clinton recently ruled out serving another term as secretary of state in a possible Obama second term and has squelched speculation that she might replace Biden as vice president. This has only fueled speculation about what her presidential ambitions might be for 2016. While Clinton's broad appeal would seem an auspicious foundation for seeking the White House, the presidential track record of secretaries of state is not -- the last time a former secretary of state won the presidency was James Buchanan in 1856. Perhaps that is one reason Clinton is looking to end her service on a high note, and in plenty of time to add another presidential-worthy credential to her resume, should the presidency be her goal.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 25-27, 2011, with a random sample of 1,027 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
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 landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 200 cell phone-only respondents and 800 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.