Unfavorable views of Hillary Clinton are on the rise and perceptions of her as “honest and trustworthy” have dropped following the revelation that while serving as secretary of state she used a personal email address and home-based server to conduct State Department business.
But questions about Clinton’s email practices may not harm her chances if she makes a run for the White House in 2016, as a new CNN/ORC poll finds 57% of Americans say she’s someone they’d be proud to have as their president.
Overall, 51% in the poll call Clinton’s use of a personal email system rather than a government provided one a very or somewhat serious problem, 48% say it’s not too serious an issue or no problem at all. And the public is similarly split over whether Clinton did something wrong by using the personal system; 51% say she did, 47% that she did not.
The survey was conducted after Clinton’s press conference last week addressing the controversy over her emails. Clinton said she relied on the private system for “convenience,” that it would be easier to carry one device for both work and personal emails rather than separating the two.
At the time Clinton served, the State Department did not allow staffers to automatically access personal email accounts on the same mobile device as official department emails.
The poll finds 46% think Clinton’s explanation was enough, while 51% feel she has not done enough to explain why she used this private email system during her time as secretary of state. The public is less interested in the emails themselves, with 41% saying Clinton has revealed too little about the emails and a narrow majority of 51% saying she’s revealed the right amount.
Clinton said she has turned over to the State Department roughly 30,000 of the 60,000 emails sent or received through her personal account during the time she served as secretary, and has asked the department to make those emails public. The State Department says it is reviewing those emails for sensitive information and will release them once the review is complete. Clinton says the emails she has not shared with the State Department were deemed personal through a review process by her and her aides, and have been deleted.
With Clinton widely expected to launch a presidential campaign soon, 52% said her handling of these emails is not relevant to her character or her ability to serve as president, while 46% see it as an important indicator of her character and readiness for the job.
There are sharp partisan divisions in the public’s assessment of Clinton’s email practices, but even among Democrats, a sizable minority think Clinton should explain more about why she used a personal email system and that she did something wrong by using a personal email.
About a quarter of Democrats (27%) think Clinton did something wrong by using the personal email system, along with 53% of independents and 74% of Republicans. And 30% of Democrats say Clinton has not done enough to explain why she chose to use the personal email system. That climbs to 79% among Republicans and 50% among independents.
Overall, the survey finds that Clinton’s favorability rating has dropped six points since November and now stands at 53% favorable to 44% unfavorable. The former first lady’s favorability ratings improved following her 2008 run for the presidency, peaking at 69% favorable in September 2011.
But as the 2016 presidential nomination contest approaches, these figures have slipped and now closely resemble her ratings during the ‘08 campaign.
At the same time, the share who see her as “honest and trustworthy” has declined in the last year. Half (50%) say they see her as honest and trustworthy, down six points since last March and similar to the share saying so in October 2007. Still, 58% say that Clinton says what she believes and not what she thinks voters want to hear.
Her husband Bill Clinton’s favorability ratings are about the same as the last CNN poll on them in spring 2014, with 65% viewing the former president favorably.
The CNN/ORC International poll was conducted by telephone March 13-15. It included interviews with 1,009 adult Americans, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.