AP poll: Voters view Hillary as dishonest, uninspiring ... but kind of favorably overall

Talk about the soft corruption of low expectations. The Associated Press released another section of its latest polling, this time on the presidential aspirants and on Barack Obama’s performance, and it’s mostly bad news for the presumed Democratic frontrunner. Despite overwhelmingly negative responses on her honesty and ability to inspire, people view her more favorably than the rest of the pack — for now, at least:

Americans appear to be suspicious of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s honesty, and even many Democrats are only lukewarm about her presidential candidacy, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Is she strong and decisive? Yes, say a majority of people. But inspiring and likable? Only a minority think so.

Clinton’s struggles to explain her email practices while in government, along with questions about the Clinton Foundation and Republican criticism of her openness, wealth and trustworthiness seem to have struck a nerve in the public’s perception of the dominant Democratic figure in the 2016 campaign. In the survey, 61 percent said “honest” describes her only slightly well or not at all.

Nearly four in 10 Democrats, and more than six in 10 independents agreed that “honest” was not the best word for her.

Even so, she is viewed more favorably than her potential Republican rivals, none of whom are as well-known as the former secretary of state, senator and first lady.

The problem with relying on polling numbers this early in the race is that they tend to measure name recognition more than conscious choice. That’s especially true with Hillary, since the Democratic Party hasn’t offered much in the way of realistic alternatives to the Clinton dynasty succession. As a result, it’s easy to rationalize on favorability, even when the components that should drive that look so poor.

Voters do see her as “strong” (61/37) and “decisive” (56/42), the latter of which is rather amusing. She won’t take questions from the press, and hasn’t yet publicly weighed in on issues even in her supposed strong suit of foreign policy. Does Hillary support the Iran deal? How would she deal with ISIS? No one knows, because Hillary is too busy having “conversations” in Iowa to answer those questions. Even the White House has trouble figuring out where she stands; they publicly stated that she backed them on the TPP trade deal, only to have Hillary come out yesterday in opposition to it.

Perhaps that’s one reason why she’s upside down on the other qualities AP polled. Hillary gets a 37/61 on being “honest,” with 4 in 10 saying it doesn’t describe her at all. She gets a 44/53 on “inspiring,” and 44/54 on “likeable.” A candidate in this position would have to have some serious accomplishments to overcome those numbers, especially in a primary, and so Hillary will need to run on … er … hang on … As a result, Hillary isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with her candidacy. Only 39% of respondents described themselves as either “excited” (18%) or “satisfied” (21%), just a few points above those angry or disappointed (13% and 21% respectively, totaling 34%).

It’s true that Hillary has better favorability numbers than the rest of the field. It’s also true that the problem for those candidates is that they’re not anywhere near as well known as Hillary. Only 12% said they didn’t know enough to say one way or the other about Hillary, while for Republicans it ranges from 33% (Jeb Bush) to 64% (Scott Walker). The GOP candidates have a lot more upside, while Hillary Clinton is too well known to move those numbers up in the future.

By the way, the poll tests respondents on the Clinton e-mail scandal, which splits pretty evenly between major problem, minor problem, or no problem at all. However, the AP survey still isn’t asking questions about the Clinton Foundation scandals, which have largely overtaken the e-mail issue. That absence of polling is getting more and more curious.