Madam Secretary

Clinton and Gates only 2 U.S. leaders to get more positive than negative ratings

Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were the only two U.S. leaders to get more positive than negative ratings in a recent poll by Harris Interactive that surved 2,276 American adults between Dec. 7 and 14. (President Obama was not included in the poll.) Clinton’s ratings: 48% positive ("excellent" or "pretty good"), 34% negative ...

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were the only two U.S. leaders to get more positive than negative ratings in a recent poll by Harris Interactive that surved 2,276 American adults between Dec. 7 and 14. (President Obama was not included in the poll.)

Clinton’s ratings: 48% positive ("excellent" or "pretty good"), 34% negative ("only fair" or "poor"), and 18% not familiar.

Gates’s ratings: 28% positive, 21% negative, and 51% not familiar.

The other people in the poll were (in descending order of positive ratings): Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats in Congress, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Rebublicans in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

During the past year, Clinton’s positive and negative ratings have stayed more-or-less stable.  Here are her positive ratings from Harris polls:

  • December: 48%
  • September: 48%
  • August: 51%
  • June: 47%
  • May: 50%
  • April: 51%
  • March: 49%

The disappointing thing you learn from these polls is how many Americans say they are "not familiar" with the most powerful and influential leaders of their country. Fifty-one percent aren’t familiar with Defense Secretary Gates, though the United States is involved in long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 57 percent aren’t familiar with Treasury Secretary Geithner, though the United States is going through serious economic problems. Democracy can’t work as well as it should if people aren’t paying attention to their leaders.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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