skip to main content
Americans Give First Lady Green Light to Run for New York Senate Seat

Americans Give First Lady Green Light to Run for New York Senate Seat

by Mark Gillespie


While Hillary Rodham Clinton has yet to announce her plans for a campaign to fill the New York Senate seat being vacated next year by retiring Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the American public is cautiously giving her the green light to run.

A new nationwide Gallup Poll conducted the weekend of February 19-21 shows 53% of those polled believe Mrs. Clinton should run for the seat, with 41% against the idea. It is not surprising that her strongest support comes from Democrats, with 72% of the Democrats sampled in the survey supporting a Clinton candidacy. Only about one out of three Republicans would like to see her run for the Senate, despite the fact that some Republicans have argued that Mrs. Clinton's sometimes controversial image might benefit a Republican candidate in New York or help energize Republican fund-raising across the country. Among independent voters, 55% support a Clinton candidacy.

Historically, Mrs. Clinton's favorable ratings have been strong, even more so in the wake of the impeachment scandal. Gallup Poll trends over the last year show a boost in her favorable rating from 60% in February, 1998, to 65% today, and 80% of Americans approve of the way she has handled the role of First Lady. These ratings stand in contrast to the 55% of the public who have a favorable image of Bill Clinton, and his 66% job approval rating. Of the last four First Ladies, Hillary Rodham Clinton ranks second only to Barbara Bush when Americans are asked which comes closest to the ideal of what a First Lady should be.

Of course, a Clinton candidacy in New York would take her out of the White House for most of Bill Clinton's final year as President. Seventy-seven percent of those polled say that would have no effect on the Clinton Administration, while 16% believe it would have a negative impact and 6% say it would have a positive impact.

Finally, while Mrs. Clinton is only considering a Senate bid at the moment, there are those who would like to see another Clinton in the White House. When asked whether Hillary Rodham Clinton is qualified to be President someday, 49% of Americans say yes, while 48% say no. However, when asked whether she should run for President someday, 50% say no, while 45% say yes. In 1993, the last time Gallup interviewers asked that question, 56% of Americans were against the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, while 36% supported it.

Just your opinion, should Hillary Clinton run for Senator of New York in the 2000 election, or not?

  Should Should Not No Opinion
99 Feb
43 45 12

If a peace agreement is reached, NATO has proposed sending 30,000 peacekeeping troops to Kosovo, including about 4,000 U.S. troops. Would you favor or oppose the U.S. committing its troops as part of that peacekeeping force in Kosovo?

  Yes, should No, should not No Opinion
99 Feb
53% 41% 6%

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Hillary Rodham Clinton is handling her job as First Lady?

  Approve Disapprove No Opinion
99 Feb
80% 17% 3%
97 Oct
62 31 7
97 Jan
62 34 4
95 Jan
54 40 6
94 Apr
56 37 7
94 Mar
58 39 3
93 Mar
67 16 17

If Hillary Clinton does run for Senate next year, would this have a positive effect or a negative effect on Bill Clinton's ability to fulfill his duties as president, or won't in make any difference?

  Positive effect Negative effect Won't make any difference No Opinion
99 Feb
6% 16% 77% 1%

Do you think Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president of the United States someday, or not?

  Yes, qualified No, not qualified No Opinion
99 Feb
49% 48% 3%
93 Feb
47 44 9

Should Hillary Clinton run for president someday, or not?

  Yes No No Opinion
99 Feb
45% 50% 5%
93 Feb
36 56 8

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030