Hillary Clinton’s and Robert Gates’ Ratings Improve

NEW YORK, N.Y. – June 2, 2011 – A new Harris Poll finds that public attitudes to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have improved over the last few months. Both are more highly rated now than at any time since they took office. They both enjoy better than 2-to-1 favorable ratings among those who are familiar enough with them to rate them. The poll also finds that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s positive ratings have improved, but many people are not familiar with him and, among those who are, his ratings are still negative by almost 2-to-1. The poll rates nine leaders in Washington and the Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Only Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates receive more positive than negative ratings.

Harris last asked these questions in January, so we can only speculate as to when and why these changes occurred. As in our previous polls, many people are not familiar enough with some of the leaders to rate them at all; 57% cannot rate Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and more than 45% cannot rate Robert Gates, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

The main findings of the poll include:

  • Hillary Clinton ‘s ratings are now 61% positive, 26% negative, up from 50% to 31% in January. This is the first time since she took office that her positive ratings are above 51%. She continues to be by far the most popular leader in Washington;
  • Vice-President Joe Biden‘s ratings are 35% positive, 43% negative, compared to 33%-39% in January;
  • Robert Gates ‘ ratings are now 37% positive, 16% negative, compared to 30%-18% in January. But almost half (47%) of all adults are not familiar enough with him to have an opinion about him;
  • Tim Geithner’ s ratings are 17% positive, 27% negative with most people (57%) still not familiar with him;
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s ratings are 17% positive, 36% negative compared to 11%-33% in January;
  • House Speaker John Boehner’s ratings are 22% positive, 32% negative compared to 22%-27% in January;
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi‘s ratings are now 24% positive and 51% negative, compared to 22%-48% in January; and
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke‘s ratings are now 22% positive, 29% negative, compared to 20%-25% in January.

Both parties in Congress are still overwhelmingly unpopular: the Democrats’ ratings are 18% positive, 48% negative, and the Republicans’ 18% positive, 44% negative.

So What?

While we do not have data to explain why Secretaries Clinton and Gates have seen a sharp improvement in their ratings, a plausible hypothesis is that these improvements are a result of the successful SEAL attack on Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

This poll, like its predecessors, finds very large numbers of people who are not familiar enough with some very important cabinet members and other Washington leaders. This supports our belief that most people do not follow national news about government and politics. Many people are much more likely to follow the lives of the best known celebrities, movie and TV stars, athletes and singers than the actions of the leading movers and shakers in the nation’s capitol. However this ignorance does not prevent many of them from having very strong opinions about government, government policies and politicians in general.

 

TABLE 1

FAMILIARITY WITH SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND PARTIES IN CONGRESS

Are you familiar enough with each of the following to have an opinion regarding them?

Base: All adults

FAMILIAR

2009

2010

2011

Mar

April

May

June

Aug

Sept

Dec

Jan

Mar

June

Oct

Jan.

May

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

85

83

83

81

82

82

82

82

81

81

81

81

87

Vice President Joe Biden

70

67

69

68

71

70

72

67

72

71

72

71

78

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

68

65

66

66

67

69

71

68

69

69

72

69

75

Democrats in Congress

66

64

64

65

68

69

67

71

68

68

67

66

66

Republicans in Congress

62

61

59

58

63

65

64

66

67

64

64

63

62

House Speaker John Boehner

37

N/a

37

N/a

27

N/a

N/a

N/a

N/a

N/a

37

48

54

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

32

N/a

N/a

N/a

39

N/a

44

N/a

N/a

N/a

N/a

N/a

53

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

40

44

43

42

45

46

49

47

48

44

47

47

53

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

42

43

43

41

44

48

N/a

N/a

49

45

48

45

51

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

35

44

41

39

43

42

43

43

43

39

41

40

43

Note: N/a indicates not asked; In January 2011 Nancy Pelosi became House Minority Leader (from House Speaker) and John Boehner became House Speaker (from House Minority Leader).

 

TABLE 2

RATINGS OF SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND PARTIES IN CONGRESS

How would you rate the overall job each of the following is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Excellent

Pretty

Good

Negative

Only

Fair

Poor

Not

Familiar

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

61

22

39

26

17

10

13

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

37

10

27

16

11

5

47

Vice President Joe Biden

35

10

26

43

22

21

22

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

22

5

17

29

16

13

49

House Speaker John Boehner

22

5

17

32

17

15

46

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

17

4

12

27

11

15

57

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

24

5

19

51

17

34

25

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

17

4

13

36

14

22

47

Republicans in Congress

18

3

15

44

19

24

38

Democrats in Congress

18

4

13

48

22

26

34

Positive = excellent or pretty good Negative = only fair or poor; In January 2011 Nancy Pelosi became House Minority Leader (from House Speaker) and John Boehner became House Speaker (from House Minority Leader).

 

TABLE 3

RATING OF VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN – TREND

How would you rate the job Vice-President Joe Biden is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

35

43

22

Jan.

%

33

39

29

2010

Oct.

%

26

46

28

June

%

26

45

29

March

%

29

44

28

Jan.

%

28

39

33

2009

Dec.

%

30

42

28

Sept.

%

30

41

30

Aug.

%

33

38

29

June

%

30

38

32

May

%

32

36

31

April

%

34

32

33

March

%

35

35

30

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.


TABLE 4

RATING OF SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON – TREND

How would you rate the job Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

61

26

13

Jan.

%

50

31

19

2010

Oct.

%

48

32

19

June

%

45

35

19

March

%

48

33

19

Jan.

%

49

33

18

2009

Dec.

%

48

34

18

Sept.

%

48

34

18

Aug.

%

51

31

18

June

%

47

34

19

May

%

50

33

17

April

%

51

32

17

March

%

49

36

15

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

TABLE 5

RATING OF DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES – TREND

How would you rate the job Defense Secretary Robert Gates is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

37

16

47

Jan.

%

30

18

53

2010

Oct.

%

27

20

53

June

%

23

20

56

March

%

27

21

52

Jan.

%

26

21

53

2009

Dec.

%

28

21

51

Sept.

%

28

18

54

Aug.

%

28

17

55

June

%

28

13

58

May

%

28

15

57

April

%

30

14

56

March

%

27

13

60

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.


TABLE 6

RATING OF TREASURY SECRETARY TIM GEITHNER – TREND

How would you rate the job Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

17

27

57

Jan.

%

14

26

60

2010

Oct.

%

12

29

59

June

%

10

29

61

March

%

13

30

57

Jan.

%

14

29

57

2009

Dec.

%

15

29

57

Sept.

%

16

26

58

Aug.

%

17

26

57

June

%

15

24

61

May

%

16

26

59

April

%

18

26

56

March

%

11

24

65

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

TABLE 7

RATING OF HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI – TREND

How would you rate the job House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

24

51

25

Jan.

%

22

48

31

2010

Oct.

%

19

52

28

June

%

20

49

31

March

%

16

52

31

Jan.

%

18

50

32

2009

Dec.

%

22

49

29

Sept.

%

20

49

31

Aug.

%

19

48

33

June

%

18

49

34

May

%

21

45

34

April

%

21

44

35

March

%

23

45

32

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding; until January 2011 Nancy Pelosi was House Speaker.


TABLE 8

RATING OF HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER – TREND

How would you rate the job House Speaker John Boehner is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

22

32

46

Jan.

%

22

27

52

2010

Oct.

%

12

25

63

2009

Aug.

%

8

19

73

March

%

9

16

75

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding; Until January 2011 John Boehner was House Minority Leader.

TABLE 9

RATING OF SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID – TREND

How would you rate the job Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

17

36

47

2009

Dec.

%

11

33

56

Aug.

%

10

29

61

March

%

12

26

61

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

TABLE 10

RATING OF FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE – TREND

How would you rate the job Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

22

29

49

Jan.

%

20

25

55

2010

Oct.

%

20

28

52

June

%

17

29

55

March

%

21

28

51

2009

Sept.

%

25

23

52

Aug.

%

20

24

56

June

%

18

23

59

May

%

19

24

57

April

%

20

23

57

March

%

14

28

58

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding


TABLE 11

RATING OF DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS – TREND

How would you rate the job the Democrats in Congress are doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

18

48

34

Jan.

%

19

47

34

2010

Oct.

%

16

51

33

June

%

14

54

32

March

%

14

54

32

Jan.

%

17

54

29

2009

Dec.

%

18

50

33

Sept.

%

18

51

31

Aug.

%

21

47

32

June

%

21

43

35

May

%

25

39

36

April

%

22

42

36

March

%

25

41

34

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

TABLE 12

RATING OF REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS – TREND

How would you rate the job the Republicans in Congress are doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2011

May

%

18

44

38

Jan.

%

20

44

37

2010

Oct.

%

14

51

36

June

%

11

52

36

March

%

16

51

33

Jan.

%

16

50

34

2009

Dec.

%

14

50

36

Sept.

%

11

54

35

Aug.

%

12

52

37

June

%

12

46

42

May

%

14

45

41

April

%

14

48

39

March

%

15

47

38

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J40013

Q1230, 1232

The Harris Poll® #66, June 2, 2011

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

About Harris Interactive

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