Hillary Clinton More Popular Than Barack Obama!

It is apparently a very slow news day.  How else does one explain Dana Milbank‘s long column explaining that Hillary Clinton is more popular than her boss?

By any measure — favorability ratings or job approval — Americans by a sizable margin have warmer views of the secretary of state than they do of the president. This is of little use to Clinton beyond bragging rights, but among Hillary ’08 fans there is some satisfaction that the woman Obama once cut down as “likable enough” is now more liked than he is. Depending on the measure and the poll, she leads him by roughly 10 to 25 percentage points.

To understand why, look no further than their calendars for Monday. The president was in Alabama and Mississippi, trying again to change the public perception that his administration has been weak in its response to the oil spill. The secretary of state was in Washington receiving plaudits for being a “passionate leader” and for taking a “resolute and genuine” stand against human trafficking and slavery.

Okay . . . so it’s easier to be popular by taking popular stands than being the chief executive during multiple crises?   Really?

Previous secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were both more popular than their boss, President George W. Bush. But such a trend is not universal: Warren Christopher didn’t have ratings as high as his boss, President Bill Clinton.

Probably because Christopher was the most low-profile Secretary of State in my memory?   I was studying or teaching about foreign policy during Christopher’s tenure and can’t offhand recall much about him.   There was a lot going on during his four years, but he did most of his work behind the scenes.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Now that picture should be a caption contest.

  2. Caption? I gotcher caption right here: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

  3. I put up my own post, citing this one, that the stage is being set now for Hillary’s 2012 run for the Oval Office.

    Here’s my take. If the November House and Senate elections turn out to be the Democrat train wreck that politicos of both parties say it will be, Hillary will resign from Secretary of State effective the first or so of 2011. Magically, her book about international politics and her experience as secretary will hit the shelves before Labor Day. She’ll already have formed her presidential race exploratory committee by then and the full campaign apparatus will be in place by the end of October. The 2012 Iowa caucus will be in early January as usual and the Hillary 2012 train will be in full steam.

  4. James Joyner says:


    It’s been done — notably Ted Kennedy against Carter and Pat Buchanan against Bush Sr — but it’s never been done successfully.