- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

Americans hold sharply opposing views about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, though most men are significantly more likely than women to have negative opinions about her, according to a Gallup Poll on the New York Democrat.

More often than not, the strongest opinions about the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination are focused on personality and character traits — ranging from positive responses such as “intelligent,” “outspoken” and “direct” to negative perceptions such as “wishy-washy,” “untrustworthy,” “overbearing” and “aggressive.”

“All in all, the public is just about as likely to be able to come up with positive views of Clinton as they are to come up with negative views. Thirty-six percent of Americans could not name anything they admire about Clinton, while 39 percent could not name anything they don’t like about her,” Gallup said in an analysis of the responses they received from 1,002 Americans they polled about the former first lady from June 26 to 29.

Gallup said the overall public perception of Mrs. Clinton’s image was 51 percent favorable and 44 percent unfavorable.

Among those expressing negative opinions about Mrs. Clinton, 11 percent cited her “liberal political views,” while another 11 percent said she “wavers too much on issues to her advantage/wishy-washy.”

“These are followed by expression of a basic lack of trust in her (8 percent), residues of past Clinton scandals (7 percent), and the view that she is overbearing and aggressive (7 percent),” Gallup said.

“Men are significantly more likely to be able to verbalize negative opinions of Clinton than are women. Seventy percent of men can mention something they don’t like about Clinton, compared to 55 percent of women,” Gallup said.

The findings about how the general public views Mrs. Clinton were released as several other Democrats form committees to promote their presidential prospects, sending signals that they do not think Mrs. Clinton, despite her lead in the polls, has a lock on the nomination.

Last month, a Cook/RT Strategies poll of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents showed Mrs. Clinton leading eight other Democratic hopefuls with 37 percent, followed by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts with 20 percent and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina with 12 percent.

Notably, an Iowa Poll conducted recently for the Des Moines Register showed Mr. Edwards leading Mrs. Clinton by 30 percent to 26 percent in the state, which will hold the first party nominating caucuses of the 2008 campaign.

Other independent pollsters say they, too, have found that the senator from New York, who is up for re-election in November, triggers strong responses from voters who either like her or dislike her, with little middle ground.

“She is a polarizing figure in a polarized age. She has some convincing to do. Very few people are lukewarm towards her. There is a high intensity on both sides,” said pollster John Zogby.

“And she has another problem and that is right now she has carved a position for herself in the center and she’s alienating large swaths of voters on the left who oppose the war in Iraq,” he said.

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