Public Opinion on Hillary Clinton, 1992-2014

By Bowman, Karlyn; Marsico, Jennifer | AEI Paper & Studies, May 2014 | Go to article overview

Public Opinion on Hillary Clinton, 1992-2014


Bowman, Karlyn, Marsico, Jennifer, AEI Paper & Studies


HILLARY AS FIRST LADY: First Ladies generally receive positive marks. Once she assumed the role, Americans gave her solid approval ratings. Gallup noted in the spring of 1993 that with her "unprecedented involvement" in the Clinton Administration, "[O]ne apparent result is the public views her in a highly partisan terms, unlike the more neutral image enjoyed by most First Ladies." In September 1992, there was no appreciable gender gap in ratings of Hillary Clinton. But by the time of the May Gallup Opinion Index report, there was a large one, with women being 13 percentage points more favorable than men. Although Hillary Clinton's First Lady approval rating was not affected early on by questions about her involvement in the Whitewater real estate deal and her financial dealings in the commodities market, she did not "sway public opinion about her role in these controversial activities," said Gallup. In April 1994, 15 percent said she did something illegal, 41 percent that she may have done something unethical but not illegal, while 40 percent said she had done nothing seriously wrong. When President Clinton admitted his infidelity, however, her ratings soared, reaching 80 percent approval in a February 1999 Gallup question.

One of the most frequently asked questions about Hillary as First Lady was whether or not she exercised too much influence over the Clinton administration. Because she served after Barbara Bush, a "hands-off" First Lady, Hillary's active involvement in Cabinet selection and the health care debate was a significant departure.

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

                        Approve    Disapprove

Jan. 1993    Gallup       67%         16%
Mar. 1994    Gallup        58          39
Apr. 1994    Gallup        56          37
Jan. 1995    Gallup        54          40
Jan. 1997    Gallup        62          33
Oct. 1997    Gallup        62          31
Feb. 1999    Gallup        80          17
May 1999     Gallup        71          23
Nov. 1999    Gallup        66          30
Feb. 2000    Gallup        65          30
Nov. 2000    Gallup        66          30

* Do you approve or disapprove of the way Hillary
Rodham Clinton handled her role as First Lady?

                        Approve    Disapprove

Jan. 2001    CBS          74%          21%
Jun. 2003    CBS           74          20
Jul. 2007    CBS/NYT       69          26

* How would you rate the job Hillary Rodham Clinton is doing as First
Lady--excellent, pretty good, only fair, or poor?

                        Excellent    Pretty good    Only fair    Poor

Jun. 1993 *   Harris       45%                         46%
Apr. 1994     Harris        11           37%            27        23%
Jul. 1994     Harris        17            39            23        18
Jan. 1996     Harris        13            34            25        27
Nov. 1998     Harris        31            38            19         9
Jul. 1999     Harris        31            37            18        12

Note: * Responses combined.

* Do you approve or disapprove of the way Hillary Clinton
is handling her position as first lady?

                        Approve     Disapprove

Mar. 1994    ABC/WP       60%          37%
Apr. 1994    ABC           57           38
Aug. 1994    ABC/WP        60           37
Jan. 1996    ABC           51           40
Jan. 1996    ABC           46           42
Mar. 1996    ABC/WP        51           46
Jun. 1996    ABC/WP        47           47
Jan. 1997    ABC/WP        60           36
Aug. 1998    ABC           71           24

* On balance, do you think Hillary Clinton has
helped or hurt Bill Clinton's presidency?

                              Helped   Hurt

Mar. 1994     PSRA/Newsweek    51%      34%
Jan. 1996 *   PSRA/Newsweek     25      56

Note: * Asked of registered voters.

* Compared to the way the news media have treated other first
ladies, have they been harder on Hillary Clinton, easier on
Hillary Clinton, or have they treated her the same as other
first ladies? … 

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Public Opinion on Hillary Clinton, 1992-2014
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