Hillary Clinton sits in on a roundtable discussion at Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles restaurant in Columbia, S.C., last month. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
While Hillary Clinton remains the clear front-runner in the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, a growing number of American voters view her unfavorably and distrust her, new polls released Tuesday show.
According to a CNN/ORC poll, 50 percent view Clinton unfavorably — up from 44 percent in March (before she announced her presidential bid) and the highest level since 2001, when it was 53 percent. The only other time a majority of Americans viewed Clinton unfavorably was in 1996, when she was first lady.
The survey found 46 percent view Clinton favorably, down from 53 percent in March and 61 percent in May 2013.
Meanwhile, 57 percent of Americans say she is not honest and trustworthy (up from 49 percent in March), 47 percent feel she cares about people like them (down from 53 percent in July 2014) and 50 percent feel she does not inspire confidence (up from 42 percent in March 2014).
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Clinton faces similar character hurdles.
Just 45 percent view Clinton favorably — down 22 percent since January 2013, at the end of her tenure as secretary of state. And more people (49 percent) view her unfavorably than favorably for the first time since 2008, when she ran for president, losing in the Democratic primary.
More about the ABC News/Washington Post survey:
“Perhaps most alarmingly for her campaign, the number who see Clinton as honest and trustworthy has dropped from 53 percent a year ago, then 46 percent two months ago, to 41 percent now. Fifty-two percent now don’t see her as honest and trustworthy, the most, again, since April 2008.”
While the increasing distrust and unfavorable view of Clinton can be attributed in part to perceptions of her by Republican and independent respondents, it can’t be attributed entirely to those respondents.
According to the ABC/Washington Post poll, 36 percent of independents and 14 percent of Republicans view her favorably. Yet “even among those who intend to vote for her in the Democratic primary, just 78 percent see Clinton as trustworthy,” writes Gary Langer of Langer Research Associates, which conducted the poll.
And according to the CNN/ORC survey, more than 80 percent of Democratic voters had viewed her as honest and trustworthy in March. That number has dropped to 73 percent, the new poll found.
Clinton speaks to reporters after a campaign event in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in May. (Photo: Jim Young/Reuters)
The good news for Clinton is that she remains the dominant front-runner in the Democratic race. Both surveys show she maintains a lead of more than 45 points over her closest theoretical challenger, Vice President Joe Biden, who has not indicated he intends to run, and at least 50 points over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who formally launched his 2016 campaign last week.
And while her lead in a theoretical general election against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has dipped from 12 points in March to 3 points, according to the ABC/Washington Post poll, a majority of Americans (55 percent) said they believe she would win the presidency in that matchup.