Hillary Clinton Rise as Most Popular Politician Prompting Buyers’ Remorse

The most popular national political figure in America today is one who was rejected by her own party three years ago: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans hold a favorable view of her and one-third are suffering a form of buyer’s remorse, saying the U.S. would be better off now if she had become president in 2008 instead of Barack Obama.

The finding in the latest Bloomberg National Poll shows a higher level of wishful thinking about a Hillary Clinton presidency than when a similar question was asked in July 2010. Then, a quarter of Americans held such a view.

“Looking back, I wonder if she would have been a stronger leader, knowing the games and the politics and all that goes on,” said Susan Dunlop, 50, a homemaker in New Port Richey, Florida. “I don’t think she would have bent as much.”

Clinton, 63, a former first lady and U.S. senator from New York, fought with Obama for the Democratic nomination until June 2008, in what was often a combative primary that included her questioning his presidential readiness.

While 34 percent say things would be better under a Clinton administration, almost half -- 47 percent -- say things would be about the same and 13 percent say worse.

“Some of her appeal is that she is not Barack Obama,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Des Moines, Iowa-based Selzer & Co., which conducted the Sept. 9-12 poll.

Obama’s Job Approval

Obama’s job approval rating stands at the lowest of his presidency, 45 percent, the poll shows.

Republicans are slightly more inclined than the national average to think the U.S. would be better off with Clinton running the country, with 39 percent saying so. A majority of Democrats -- 57 percent -- say things would be the same.

Clinton’s international sphere of influence offers some of the only areas where Obama scores well in the poll. On Libya, 42 percent approve of his job performance, while 65 percent like his efforts on terrorism, which include the May capture and killing of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

A plurality of Tea Party supporters -- 44 percent -- say the U.S. would be better off with Hillary Clinton as president, even though 59 percent of those respondents have an unfavorable impression of her.

“She’s a more stable person who gets results,” said Joseph Cherney, 67, a retired Republican automotive purchasing worker from Mineral Ridge, Ohio. “The president we have now isn’t much of a president because he really doesn’t do anything. He’s pompous and arrogant.”

Women’s Support

Women are no more or less likely to think the U.S. would be better off with Hillary Clinton at the helm than the rest of the population.

She is more likable to women, with 68 percent holding a favorable view, compared to 59 percent of men. All age groups hold favorable views of Clinton, although those 65 years and older are more fawning, with 68 percent in that group holding a favorable view.

Ninety percent of Democrats like Clinton, compared to 35 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of independents.

Those in the northeast U.S. are her biggest backers, with 77 percent there holding a favorable view, compared to 59 percent in the South and West and 64 percent in the Midwest.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee in 2008, does not enjoy quite as much wishful thinking among Americans about what he would have done with a presidency.

McCain Ranking

Twenty-nine percent say things would be better if McCain were president, while 28 percent say things would be about the same and 35 percent say the nation would be in worse shape.

McCain’s numbers are virtually unchanged from the July 2010 Bloomberg poll.

In a Sept. 4 interview on Fox News, former Vice President Dick Cheney praised Clinton as he speculated on whether the Democrats would have been better off if she had been nominated.

“I have the sense that she’s one of the more competent members of the current administration, and it would be interesting to speculate about how she might perform were she to be president,” he said.

Clinton was asked about Cheney’s remarks and whether she had any interest in challenging Obama in a primary during a Sept. 9 interview on CNN.

“It’s below zero,” Clinton said, when asked about the chances of a challenge to Obama. “One of the great things about being secretary of state is I am out of politics. I am not interested in being drawn back into it by anybody.”

The Bloomberg poll of 997 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points on the full sample.

To contact the reporter on this story: John McCormick in Chicago at jmccormick16@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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