Poll finds Clinton tops GOP rivals in favorable ratings

WASHINGTON– Americans are more likely to have a favorable view of Hillary Rodham Clinton than any of her potential Republican rivals in 2016’s race for the presidency, even though few see the former secretary of state as honest, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Five things to know about public opinion on Clinton:


According to the new Associated Press-GfK poll, just 37 percent of Americans say the word “honest” describes Clinton very or even somewhat well, while 61 percent say it describes her only slightly or not at all well. Even among Democrats, 4 in 10 think the word “honest” describes Clinton slightly or not at all well, while 6 in 10 independents and 9 in 10 Republicans say the same.

On the other hand, 61 percent of Americans describe Clinton as “strong” and 56 percent say she is “decisive.”

Women are significantly more likely than men to say each of these words, along with “inspiring” and “likable,” describe Clinton at least somewhat well.

The poll comes after Clinton has weathered criticism over her use of a private email account run from a server kept at her New York home while serving as secretary of state, and amid questions about foreign donations to the family’s charitable foundation and whether that money influenced her work at the State Department.


Despite apparent distrust for Clinton, her overall ratings remain the strongest in the emerging presidential field and are essentially unchanged since two AP-GfK polls conducted last year. Forty-six percent of Americans express a favorable view of Clinton, slightly more than the 41 percent who express a negative opinion. Eight in 10 Democrats have a favorable view of Clinton, while 8 in 10 Republicans have an unfavorable opinion. Among independents, 27 percent expressed a favorable view and 39 percent have an unfavorable view, while 29 percent don’t know enough to say.

Most polls showed Clinton with a much higher favorable rating while she was secretary of state. Opinions of her have become more polarized as she has re-entered partisan politics, as they were when she vied for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.


Clinton said last month that she used a personal account out of convenience. She deleted about 30,000 emails that she has described as personal in nature and has declined requests from congressional Republicans to turn over her server for an independent review.

The survey suggests that many Americans aren’t buying Clinton’s explanation: A majority said they believe she used a private address to shield her emails from transparency laws and that they think she should turn her server over to a third party for further investigation.

At the same time, the public is split over whether her email usage is a significant issue for her presidential aspirations: Just a third – 32 percent – said it was a major problem, 36 percent rated it a minor problem, and 31 percent said it’s not a problem at all. Only 20 percent said they’re paying very close attention to the email story.

Opinions on the email story are highly polarized, with 7 in 10 Democrats saying Clinton has done enough to comply with government transparency laws already and 8 in10 Republicans saying she should turn her server over for further investigation.


Clinton’s ratings top those of every other Republican candidate in the poll, all of whom are less known than the former secretary of state and nearly all of whom have at least slightly more negative than positive ratings. The only exception is Dr. Ben Carson, given a favorable rating by 15 percent of Americans and an unfavorable one by 12 percent, while 7 in 10 said they didn’t know enough to say.

Jeb Bush, the most well-known of Clinton’s potential Republican rivals, is viewed favorably by 29 percent of Americans and unfavorably by 36 percent.

Many other top Republicans remain unknown by a significant proportion of Americans, including Marco Rubio (unknown to 48 percent), Ted Cruz (unknown by 49 percent), Rand Paul (unknown to 43 percent) and Scott Walker (unknown to 64 percent).


Despite Clinton’s dominance in the early primary field and mostly positive ratings among Democrats, the survey suggests that some in her party would be open to a challenger.

Among Democrats, only 34 percent said they were excited by her candidacy while 36 percent described themselves as merely satisfied. Another 19 percent said they were neutral, and 9 percent were disappointed or angry about the idea.

“I wish there was somebody else,” said Kenneth Berger of New York City. “She always has a problem.”

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

This article was written by Emily Swanson and Lisa Lerer of the Associated Press.