Hillary the Candidate

America is getting to know candidate Hillary… again. And judging from her recent poll numbers, the more the country is exposed to candidate Hillary, the less it likes what it sees (and hears.)

As Secretary of State, Hillary was certainly very popular. But she wasn’t running for office then and was generally viewed from afar as a non-partisan secretary relaying her boss’s diplomatic memos and international calls. Her favorability hovered in the mid-sixties throughout her service, peaking at 66% just before leaving the office.

It’s not the first time Hillary enjoyed high favorability ratings. Upon entering the unelected roll of First Lady, Bill’s helpmeet had solid numbers approaching 60% by spring of his first year in office (but still far lower than Laura Bush’s 70%+ favorability rating at around the same time in George’s presidency.)

But high approval numbers have not been the norm for the newly made-over former secretary. After being appointed by the 42nd President to chair the Task Force on National Healthcare Reform, the precursor to ObamaCare, and once on the scene promoting nationalized healthcare, Hillary saw her numbers dramatically sink.

By 1996, well after HillaryCare was abandoned, Mrs. Clinton would also have the numerical distinction of 42 -- but in her case the 42 represented her favorability percentage, her lowest recorded for a recent First Lady according to Pew Research (unless her 39% Gallup rating is counted when President Clinton first took office and she was a virtual unknown.)

She managed to recover from that low point to achieve a high of 67% approval as she stood in a supportive roll by her cheating husband, just after he was impeached for lying. Yet by fall of 2000 as Bush and the GOP were on the rise for election victory in November and her political campaign for the Senate was in full public view, Hillary fell again back to the 40s in favorability.

There’s little question that the Benghazi horror has had a negative impact on Hillary’s ratings, but even this was only after she stepped into the limelight and testified. In addition to Gallup, a Washington Post / ABC News poll in December of 2012 also found Hillary airborne at 66% approval, three months after Benghazi.

The first real post-retirement hit to Clinton#2 came after America watched what appeared to be an angry, defensive, and elusive former secretary wave her arms and holler, “What difference at this point does it make?” The cause of the attack on our Benghazi compound may not have made a difference to Hillary, but her prime time appearance on national TV certainly did. Her ratings took a nosedive to around 57%.

Though she managed to edge up from there to 59%, the slide seems to now have taken a significant turn for Hillary the Candidate. Once again in the media spotlight as she peddled her new book last week, the former secretary showed she is still just as defensive and angry (see her after confronted on her gay marriage flip-flop) and deceptive (claiming to be dead broke when leaving white house.) 

Add to that her alarming statement in an NBC interview last Wednesday about the five senior Taliban jihadists released by Obama: “These five guys are not a threat to the United States.” Now her competence to be commander-in-chief is in even greater question.

Hillary the Candidate has fallen from 59% to 54% approval according to Gallup, 52% in the latest Bloomberg poll, and a jaw-dropping 49% in The Economist/YouGov sampling – her lowest approval point since 2008. What difference at this point does that make? Maybe a lot. Those polls were conducted even before her widely publicized statements last week.