Hillary isn’t popular anymore, and the campaign hasn’t even begun

It seems like a lifetime ago that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings were something that would inspire fits of jealousy in any politician. In fact, Clinton’s monumental popularity was not a feature of the distant past. As recently as January, a Gallup poll showed that the former secretary had a net favorability rating with the public of 19 points.

Not even a year later, that public esteem for Clinton has disappeared. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that the public is essentially split on whether Clinton is “likeable enough.” 43 percent of respondents said that they had a favorable opinion of Clinton while 41 percent said the opposite. That’s a staggering decline in favorability in NBC/WSJ’s polling from as recently as the winter of 2013 when 56 percent of the public said they regarded Clinton highly while only 25 percent disagreed.

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Among those who have a positive view of Clinton, 21 considered it a “very positive” view while another 22 percent said it was only a “somewhat” positive opinion. Meanwhile, among those who hold a negative view of the former secretary, 26 percent said it was a “very negative” view while only 15 percent were lukewarm on their distaste for the likely Democratic presidential standard-bearer.

“The numbers suggest Americans are far less charitable about Ms. Clinton when she is seeking office or, in this case, merely considering it than they are about other politicians who retire from public office,” The Journal noted.

They cite the fact that both former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have seen an improvement in their favorability ratings since leaving office. Moreover, while Clinton occupied the relatively apolitical post of chief diplomat for the Obama administration, her favorability ratings were sky-high.

It is not merely Republicans and independents who have soured some on Clinton. “In 2009, 87% of Democrats viewed her positively, compared with a meager 3% who viewed negatively,” The Journal’s report read. “In the latest poll, 72% of Democrats view Ms. Clinton positively, while 13% harbor negative views.”

For a politician with near universal name recognition (in January, 91 percent told Gallup they were familiar with Hillary Clinton), this is a terrible place to be heading into a general election, much less a primary. And there will be a primary. Clinton’s only solace is that her likely Republican challengers, to say nothing of her potential Democratic challengers, are relatively unknown to most Americans.

According to WSJ/NBC’s findings, the public does not have a favorable view of any of Clinton’s three most prominent prospective GOP challengers, save Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on whom the public was split. 21 percent view him negatively while another 21 percent of respondents view him positively. The GOP can take some heart in the fact that their relatively unknown candidates can change minds or even make some first impressions in the next two years. Clinton does not have that luxury.