Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has the highest negative ratings of any presidential candidate in the 2008 race, can add another voter designation to her image: the coldest.
The Gallup Poll recently asked voters to rank the candidates on a “feeling thermometer,” in which zero was the coldest and 100 was the warmest. The New York senator and Democratic front-runner was the “most polarized” of all the candidates in either party, according to the poll.
“Nearly as many Americans say she leaves them cold as say they feel warmly about her,” Gallup said.
The poll showed 49 percent considered Mrs. Clinton a warm personality, but 44 percent thought she was “totally cold” and the remainder rated her as “neutral.”
Among the other presidential candidates, a majority expressed the warmest feelings about Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat. Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, New York Republican; former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat; and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, followed close behind.
“While Hillary Clinton’s warm ratings are higher than those of Edwards and McCain, her relatively high cold ratings suppress her overall mean score, pushing it below the 50-degree mark,” Gallup said.
“All this suggests that Obama, Edwards, Giuliani and McCain are slightly better positioned than Clinton to win the fall election” among the general electorate,” the polling organization said in an analysis of its findings.
The telephone poll of 1,001 adults was conducted Aug. 23-26 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.
The core of Mrs. Clinton’s strength is within her own party. She has led all of her rivals for the Democratic nomination since she officially announced her candidacy Jan. 20. She leads the Democratic pack in all the national presidential preference polls as well as in the major early primaries and caucuses, according to Chicago-based RealClearPolitics.com, an independent political Web site.
But Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy has been marked by high voter-disapproval scores, the highest of any of the major candidates, raising persistent questions within her party’s rank and file about her electability.
A recent national survey of 900 registered voters for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Poll found that 49 percent had a favorable opinion of Mrs. Clinton, compared with 45 percent who had an unfavorable opinion of her. Mr. Obama was seen as far more likable, with a 51 percent favorability score versus a 25 percent unfavorable rating.
Mrs. Clinton drew similarly high disapproval scores in other national presidential-preference polls this month, including an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of 1,002 Americans on Sept. 7-10. The survey found that 44 percent had very positive or somewhat positive feelings about her. But nearly the same number, 42 percent, said they harbored very or somewhat negative feelings toward her.
Mrs. Clinton did receive some good news yesterday when she was endorsed by retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and whose military credentials could bolster her bid to be the first female commander in chief.
Mr. Clark, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, praised Mrs. Clinton as “a remarkable person” with the skills and experience to be president.
“She will be a great leader for the United States of America and a great commander in chief for the men and women in uniform,” Mr. Clark told reporters in a conference call with the former first lady.
Mrs. Clinton welcomed Mr. Clark’s endorsement as a “real sign of confidence” in her ability to lead the military as president. “He and I have been friends for 25 years, and I am deeply admiring of his leadership,” she said.
Mrs. Clinton also gained an endorsement yesterday from Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. The two women first met in the early 1980s when Mrs. Stabenow was a state representative and Mrs. Clinton was a child advocacy lawyer.
“I said, this is somebody I want to get to know because it was somebody whose values I share,” Mrs. Stabenow said yesterday.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.