Victory in sight, Clinton still has negative views
Hillary Clinton bested Donald Trump in three debates. She leads in many preference polls of the most competitive states. Barring a significant shift in the next two weeks, she is in a strong position to become the first woman elected US president.
But Clinton will end the campaign still struggling to change the minds of millions of voters who don’t think well of her, a glaring liability should the Democratic nominee move on to the White House.
While many see her as better prepared to be commander in chief than Trump, she is consistently viewed unfavorably by more than half of the country. Most voters also consider her dishonest.
Clinton’s advisers have spent months trying to erase that perception. They’ve set up small events where she had more intimate conversations with voters. They’ve tested a seemingly endless stream of messages aimed at assuring the public that the former secretary of state was in the race to do more than fulfill her own political ambitions.
As Clinton starts making her closing argument to voters, her team appears to have come to terms that the mission remains unfulfilled.
“Honest and trustworthy has become our most talked about metric because it’s not great,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director. “But we’ve never thought it’s the metric people make a decision on.”
If Clinton wins, that theory may be proven true.
Just 36 percent of voters believe Clinton is honest and trustworthy, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. That’s compared with about 60 percent who believe she has the qualifications and temperament to be commander in chief.
The public’s perception of Clinton has bounced up and down throughout her time in public life. Her favorability rating fell below 50 percent at times during her years as first lady, but rose to its high water mark then and while she was as secretary of state under President Barack Obama.
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shakes hands with supporters during a campaign event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.