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February 21, 2014 12:35 PM HRC’s Favorability Ratings: Down Only If You Have Forgotten the Past

By Ed Kilgore

So Gallup has checked in on Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings now that attention is beginning to shift to the 2016 presidential election cycle. Her ratio is currently 59/37, which is down from the two-to-one ratios she was regularly enjoying as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State.

But the commonly heard idea that she’s now in the same situation she was in going into the 2008 cycle just isn’t accurate. She never reached her current “favorable” number at any point between 2000 and 2008; during her actual 2008 campaign, it was frequently under 50% and sometimes “underwater” (e.g., a net negative). That after a year of loud and abrasive and endless and redundant Benghazi! publicity from conservative media only 37% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of her is amazing.

I used to observe that Hillary Clinton’s biggest problem was that she was a figure of pop culture as much as of politics, meaning people had a false sense of familiarity with her that was hard to change. Perhaps that’s actually working in her favor now.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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