Clinton Favorability: Weak in the Center

Well-liked among Democrats but less so in the political center, Hillary Clinton ends her presidential campaign as a more divisive figure than Barack Obama, less popular overall and less strongly popular in her own party as well.

Among all registered voters, 52 percent see Clinton favorably, less than Obama's 62 percent. The shortfall occurs chiefly among independents, a key swing voter group. Just 41 percent of independents rate Clinton favorably vs. 59 percent for Obama.

Click here for a PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

Winning Clinton supporters -- she addresses the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night -- is a key task for Obama. Among Democrats who preferred Clinton for the nomination, 69 percent currently support Obama against John McCain. That's the chief reason for his weaker-than-desired support among Democrats overall, 79 percent.

Obama comes up similarly short among Democratic-leaning independents who favored Clinton. And these numbers have held essentially steady all summer, underscoring his continued need to shift them. It may not get easier after this convention week.

Among Democrats only, Clinton and Obama are rated similarly -- 78 percent favorable for her, 83 percent for him. Each is seen favorably by about seven in 10 of the other's primary supporters. But Obama has stronger intensity within the party: Sixty-one percent of Democrats view him "strongly" favorably vs. 48 percent who strongly like Clinton.

GROUPS -- Clinton is better-liked by women than by men; she's rated favorably by 58 percent of women who are registered to vote vs. 46 percent of men. Obama also does better among women than men -- women are more apt to be Democrats -- but unlike Clinton, Obama is viewed favorably by majorities of both sexes. Indeed Obama's favorable rating among women (67 percent) is significantly better than Clinton's.

Race tells a similar story. Obama is overwhelmingly popular among blacks. But even among whites alone, his favorable rating, 58 percent, exceeds Clinton's 50 percent.

Additionally, Clinton's favorability rating among political moderates, 52 percent, falls well short of Obama's, 67 percent.

At 52 percent, Clinton's overall favorable rating is up from its recent low, 44 percent in mid-April, as the Democratic primary campaign ground on. A record 54 percent in that poll saw her unfavorably. But it's well below her peak favorability, 64 percent in 1998 as her husband battled the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

BILL -- Bill Clinton, for his part, is seen favorably by 55 percent of registered voters in this poll, like his wife trailing Obama in overall popularity. Bill Clinton also rebounded from the primary campaign (47 percent in April) but is below his peak, 68 percent as he took office in January 1993.

Bill Clinton's rated strongly favorable by 30 percent overall, similar to his wife (29 percent) but behind Obama (37 percent). Among Democrats only, Bill Clinton's favorability rating is about the same as Obama's (80 percent vs. 83 percent), as his "strongly" favorable rating -- 56 percent for Clinton vs. Obama's 61 percent. Obama's more favorably rated than Bill Clinton across the aisle, among Republicans.

Obama, for his part, has seen this level of favorability before -- an identical 62 percent among registered voters in June, and 65 percent in January, after his strength in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries catapulted his campaign.

McCain has a 59 percent favorable rating, much like Obama's, but with less "strongly" favorable -- 25 percent, compared with Obama's 37 percent.

METHODOLOGY - This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Aug. 19-22, 2008, among a random national sample of 1,108 adults, including an oversample of blacks (weighted to their correct share of the national population), for a total of 201 black respondents. Results among registered voters have a 3-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

Click here for a PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

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