Poll: Hillary Clinton Still Facing Public Trust Issues

Image: Poll: Hillary Clinton Still Facing Public Trust Issues

Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 09:27 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Hillary Clinton is capable of handling the presidency, most Americans feel, but they don't trust that she's honest and straightforward, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

"She’s a mature political figure where people have decided views, and it’s not surprising that as she moves from being secretary of state to a candidate, she goes through a different filter in how she’s being viewed," pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, which conducted the poll along with Hart Research Associates, told The Wall Street Journal.

Of the 1,000 adults surveyed, 55 percent said they think Clinton is "knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency," but only 38 percent of the respondents find her honest and straightforward, while 40 percent questioned her honesty.

The poll, though, showed Democrats are starting to trust Clinton more. She's had a 23 percentage point increase from 2008 over the honesty question, and two-thirds of Democrats say she's likable, compared to 45 percent finding her likable in 2008.

Clinton has built an image as an experienced public servant over the past 30 years, serving as first lady, in the Senate, and as secretary of state. But she has had difficulty in connecting with voters and getting them to trust her, which could cause problems should she seek the presidency in 2016.

As she comes back into public life after taking a break following her resignation as secretary of state, some of her comments are being questioned.

For example, she's had to back off of comments she made to ABC's Diane Sawyer that she and Bill Clinton  were  "dead broke" after he had completed his two-term presidency, blaming their problems on the legal bills he amassed while he was president.

Further, she became agitated while being interviewed by persistent NPR host Terry Gross, arguing back after Gross suggested she had only come out in favor of gay marriage last year, when it became beneficial for her politically as same-sex unions started gaining widespread support.

But Democratic voters surveyed in the poll still strongly support Clinton, showing that other potential primary opponents could have a difficult time pulling votes away from her should she seek the nomination.

A full 88 percent of Democrats polled agree that she's knowledgeable and experienced enough to occupy the Oval Office, up from 73 percent six years ago. In addition, 4 of every 5 Democrats believe she understands everyday Americans, compared to 64 percent in 2008.

"Never underestimate how incredibly powerful it is to say you’re knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency," McInturff said. "To start a race with that is an extraordinary compliment."

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