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Resolved: Hillary Clinton is a normal, polarizing politician — again

Hillary Rodham Clinton was hugely popular as secretary of state. But today, she's looking a lot more like your average polarizing politician than a world-beating presidential frontrunner.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University is the latest to show Clinton's numbers returning to earth from the stratospheric heights she enjoyed as the nation's top diplomat. Here's the steady decline of Clinton's numbers, which Quinnipiac puts at 48 percent favorable and 43 percent unfavorable:

In fact, when it comes to popularity, Clinton is now in basically the same shape as many of the Republicans she might face in 2016 — albeit as a better-known quantity.

Below, we have compared the favorable and unfavorable ratings for each top potential candidate (according to Quinnipiac), and then calculated what percentage of all reviews were positive for each candidate.

As you can see, the ratio of positive to negative views of Clinton is very much in-line with most of the GOP frontrunners. Her favorable rating is 10 points higher than anybody else, but that's mostly just because she's much better known.

And among independents, Clinton's favorable/unfavorable split — 41/47 — is down from 49/42 in January and is now worse than every Republican listed above except Rick Santorum. (This owes partly to the fact that many conservatives don't identify with the GOP, but it's still a noteworthy decline for Clinton.)

She still leads all comers in the 2016 general election by between seven and nine points, but the trajectory of her numbers suggests she's no longer a big early frontrunner in the 2016 general election.

As we've argued before, people have over-sold Clinton's strong numbers from her time as secretary of state. And it was only a matter of time before the popular Clinton made way for the polarizing Clinton we saw in both her 2000 Senate campaign and her 2008 presidential campaign.

We're getting closer and closer to that point — and well ahead of the 2016 campaign.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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Aaron Blake · July 8, 2014

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