Politico poll shows public unimpressed with Hillary's State Department performance

Reviews panned Hillary Clinton’s memoir Hard Choices — and critics slammed her book tour even more. Defenders of the presumed Democratic presidential frontrunner claimed that the few weeks of stumbles and gaffes would long be forgotten by the time Clinton ran for President. The same could be said about her tenure at State, according to a new poll from Politico. Only 14% rate her tenure at State as “excellent,” and only 42% give it a positive rating overall:

A majority of voters are unimpressed with Hillary Clinton’s performance as secretary of state, according to a new POLITICO poll.

Just 14 percent described her time at State — she served four years ending in February 2013 — as “excellent,” while 28 percent defined it as “good.” Twenty-one percent called it “fair,” and 32 percent rated her performance “poor.” Six percent weren’t sure or declined to answer. The survey of likely voters in states and districts with the most competitive House and Senate races was conducted this month as Clinton traveled around the country to promote her new memoir, “Hard Choices,” and discuss her time as the nation’s top diplomat.

On the passion scale, that’s bad news indeed. More than twice as many rate her poorly than excellent, and that sustains itself through most demographics, according to Politico. Predictably, Democrats think she’s wonderful and Republicans think she’s horrid, but the real problem for Hillary and the Democrats who want her as the nominee is how she scores among independents:

Yet, in a potential warning sign for Clinton, independents gave her lukewarm marks by a nearly 2-to-1 margin: 60 percent viewed her performance as “fair” or “poor,” compared with just 33 percent who answered “excellent” or “good.”

There may be some who question how a Secretary of State who started off her tenure with the misspelled “reset” button to Russia and ended it with Benghazi could get even that many non-Democrats to consider her performance good or excellent. It’s not a bad question, but it’s a testament to the enduring cachet of the Clinton brand. It might be interesting, or perhaps amusing, if a pollster doing a follow-up survey on Hillary Clinton in this format added an open-ended question for the “excellent/good” responders to name one significant accomplishment of Clinton’s during her four years as America’s top diplomat. If they can name one, they’d do better than some of Hillary’s public defenders.

The Politico poll covers the traditional questions as well. Barack Obama’s job approval/disapproval hits 43/57, and the passion imbalance is even more pronounced. Only 15% strongly approve of Obama’s performance, while 44% strongly disapprove — more than Obama’s overall approval, and almost three times more than those who strongly approve. Republicans now have a 39/32 lead on trust in foreign policy, and a two-point lead in the generic Congressional ballot, 44/42 with leaners and 39/37 without.

On ObamaCare, the popularity of the law pretty much continues in its usual vein. Only 17% like the law as it is, while 45% want it repealed entirely. Another 38% take the in-between position of keeping the law and fixing it, which will give Democrats only a very thin fig leaf going into the midterm elections. The law is deeply unpopular, and if the only thing they can say about it is “I’ll fix what we broke!”, it’s going to be a bleak fall.

Speaking of which, this poll provides yet another reminder that Democrats are mostly offering non-sequiturs for narratives in this electoral cycle. Once again, economic issues are by far and away at the top of voters’ minds. Economy and jobs are the top priority for voters, with 31% combined. Economic inequality is the top concern for … one percent, the lowest specified voter priority on the list. Four percent think the environment is the top priority. Immigration and health care get higher priority than government spending and the national debt, but all of these are in single digits. Contraception doesn’t even make it on the list. The more Democrats talk about income inequality and the “war on women,” the less credibility and relevance they will have in this election cycle.