One of the most interesting little tidbits in the latest CNN/Opinion Dynamics poll is that Barack Obama is not the most popular politician in the United States currently. Make no mistake, Obama is still popular with a 57% favorable rating, and he is still much more popular than any Republican in the country, but it is Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, not Obama, who has the highest favorability rating in the poll at 61%.
According to the CNN poll, President’s Obama’s popularity rating of 57%, which is about where he has been since last October, so despite the GOP’s best efforts to turn him into Jimmy Carter or even worse, George W. Bush, Obama’s approval ratings have stayed solid through the bad economy and the nasty battle over health care reform. The real surprise is Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, who saw her approval ratings jump into the 60s in December 2008, and they have stayed there through today.
Mike Huckabee is the most popular Republican with a 43% approval rating, followed by Mitt Romney at 40%, Sarah Palin with 39%, Newt Gingrich at 38%. A troubling trend for the GOP presidential hopefuls in 2012 is that none of them come within fourteen points of Obama. It is no surprise that Sarah Palin is the politician with the highest disapproval rating registered in the poll (55%). Palin’s favorables managed to slide seven points since December of 2009, and four points since January 2010.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi saw her approval ratings jump 8 points since health care was passed, and Senate Majority leader saw a six point jump. Since Congress is never popular, Pelosi’s approval sits at 38% and Reid’s at 28%. Both political parties saw a three point increase in their approval rating since January, and the Tea Party registered a five point approval rating jump to 38%. However, the Tea Party remains almost evenly split between approval and disapproval 38%-36%.
One of the most amazing and under discussed political stories of the past two years has been the remarkable turnaround of the political perceptions of Hillary Clinton. All through, her husband’s administration, her time in the Senate, and as a 2008 presidential candidate, Mrs. Clinton was one of the most polarizing politicians in America. She struggled to get her approval rating above 50%. This all changed once she became Secretary of State. Clinton was a popular choice for the position and has become the most popular official in the Obama administration.
Last October, Mrs. Clinton told Ann Curry on Today that she looking forward to retirement when she was done as Secretary of State, not another run at the White House, but if President Obama wins reelection in 2012, and her approval ratings remain high, she might find it hard to turn down a chance to be the Democratic frontrunner who would almost certainly have Obama’s blessing. It is a win-win for Sec. of State Clinton either she gets to run for president again or retire on a high note. Either way, the American people have done an about face when it comes to their feelings about Hillary Clinton.