Hillary Rodham Clinton More Popular than Hillary Clinton

Taegan Goddard points to a new poll which shows that “Hillary Rodham Clinton” is more popular than “Hillary Clinton.” According to CNN,

Who would make a better candidate, Hillary Clinton or Hillary Rodham Clinton? If you’re thinking it doesn’t matter, you’re probably a Democrat. Most Americans’ feelings toward the Democratic senator from New York change depending on which name is used, according to a recent poll conducted by Opinion Research Corp. for CNN.

Including Hillary Clinton’s maiden name increased her approval rating among Republicans polled to 23 percent. “Hillary Clinton” had a 16 percent approval rating among people who identified themselves as Republican. Among people who said they were independent, “Hillary Rodham Clinton” was favored by 48 percent, compared with 42 percent for “Hillary Clinton.”

Why do six little letters have such a big impact on the public’s views of Sen. Clinton? “The differences are largely a matter of class and tradition,” said CNN’s Polling Director Keating Holland.

The name seemed to matter little to Democrats; the inclusion of “Rodham” inspired only a 1 percent decrease in her approval rating, from 77 to 76 percent. But below the Mason-Dixon Line, “Hillary Clinton” got a favorable rating from 52 percent of all respondents, compared with 45 percent for “Hillary Rodham Clinton.” In the rest of the country, the opposite was true: 43 percent of all people polled gave “Hillary Clinton” a positive rating and 53 percent rated “Hillary Rodham Clinton” positively.

Let’s look at the aggregate numbers:

Hillary Rodham Clinton More Popular than Hillary Clinton

Everything is within the margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. No news here.

Indeed, even the regional and partisan breakdowns come pretty close if one looks at the results as a range, as one should:

Group HRC HC Within MOE?
Republican 20-26 13-19 Off 1
Democrat 74-80 72-78 Yes
Independent 45-51 39-45 Yes
South 42-48 49-55 Off 1
Not South 50-56 40-46 Off 4

These regional differences are interesting and Holland’s explanation sounds plausible. Still, the fact that the difference is relatively modest in the South yet massive elsewhere is a headscratcher from a cultural perspective.

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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. Christopher says:

    Really, who gives a crap! If a pollster called me and asked that question I would laugh and HANG UP!

  2. McGehee says:

    The only explanation I can think of for this is that a statistically significant number of my fellow Republicans don’t know that HC and HRC are the same person.


  3. James Joyner says:

    Kev: But they’re asking different people; it’s a split sample. Context and question wording often matter in polling.