GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
Hillary Clinton, now reportedly considering the race for U.S. Senate in New York, is held in higher esteem by Americans than her husband is, which is a significant change from earlier this year, and from previous years of the Clinton administration. Although the views of the national population are not directly relevant to her possible bid for a New York senate seat, they do reflect the fact that she has managed, in general, to maintain a very positive image in the midst of the political impeachment crisis that has diminished the personal ratings of her husband this past year.
Both Hillary and Bill Clinton started 1998 with favorability ratings that were roughly similar. In a poll taken in late January 1998 after the Monica Lewinsky crisis became public and immediately after Bill Clinton's successful State of the Union address, the President's favorability rating was 65%, while the First Lady's was 64%. The significant shift came in August and into September of this past year, as details of the Lewinsky testimony and the Starr report became public. Bill Clinton's favorable numbers dropped, while Hillary Clinton's rating among the public stayed constant, creating a gap between the two–in her favor. By mid-September, for example, Bill Clinton received a 51% favorable rating, while Hillary's was 61%. In the most recent Gallup poll, conducted February 4-8, 1999, Hillary Clinton's favorable rating is at 66% while Bill Clinton's is 11% points lower, at 55%.
In previous years, particularly in 1996, Hillary Clinton received significantly lower favorability ratings than did her husband. At one point in January 1996, for example, Bill Clinton had a 54% favorable rating while Hillary received a 43%.
Who likes and who dislikes Hillary Clinton? As we would expect, Democrats are strongly positive towards the First Lady, giving her a 90% favorable rating, while Republicans are much more negative, with only 29% of those who identify themselves as Republicans saying they have a favorable opinion of her. Hillary Clinton gets a higher favorable rating among women than she does among men–71% to 60%. Other subgroups within the American population that have the highest favorable ratings for Hillary Clinton are traditional Democratic constituencies, including minorities and those who identify themselves as liberals.