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Hillary Clinton’s and Robert Gates’ Ratings Improve

June 2, 2011

NEW YORK, June 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — A new Harris Poll finds that public attitudes to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have improved over the last few months. Both are more highly rated now than at any time since they took office. They both enjoy better than 2-to-1 favorable ratings among those who are familiar enough with them to rate them. The poll also finds that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s positive ratings have improved, but many people are not familiar with him and, among those who are, his ratings are still negative by almost 2-to-1. The poll rates nine leaders in Washington and the Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Only Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates receive more positive than negative ratings.

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Harris last asked these questions in January, so we can only speculate as to when and why these changes occurred. As in our previous polls, many people are not familiar enough with some of the leaders to rate them at all; 57% cannot rate Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and more than 45% cannot rate Robert Gates, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

The main findings of the poll include:

  • Hillary Clinton‘s ratings are now 61% positive, 26% negative, up from 50% to 31% in January. This is the first time since she took office that her positive ratings are above 51%. She continues to be by far the most popular leader in Washington;
  • Vice-President Joe Biden‘s ratings are 35% positive, 43% negative, compared to 33%-39% in January;
  • Robert Gates‘ ratings are now 37% positive, 16% negative, compared to 30%-18% in January. But almost half (47%) of all adults are not familiar enough with him “to have an opinion about him”;
  • Tim Geithner‘s ratings are 17% positive, 27% negative with most people (57%) still not familiar with him;
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s ratings are 17% positive, 36% negative compared to 11%-33% in January;
  • House Speaker John Boehner’s ratings are 22% positive, 32% negative compared to 22%-27% in January;
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi‘s ratings are now 24% positive and 51% negative, compared to 22%-48% in January; and,
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke‘s ratings are now 22% positive, 29% negative, compared to 20%-25% in January.

Both parties in Congress are still overwhelmingly unpopular: the Democrats’ ratings are 18% positive, 48% negative, and the Republicans’ 18% positive, 44% negative.

So What?

While we do not have data to explain why Secretaries Clinton and Gates have seen a sharp improvement in their ratings, a plausible hypothesis is that these improvements are a result of the successful SEAL attack on Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

This poll, like its predecessors, finds very large numbers of people who are not familiar enough with some very important cabinet members and other Washington leaders. This supports our belief that most people do not follow national news about government and politics. Many people are much more likely to follow the lives of the best known celebrities, movie and TV stars, athletes and singers than the actions of the leading movers and shakers in the nation’s capitol. However this ignorance does not prevent many of them from having very strong opinions about government, government policies and politicians in general.

                                            TABLE 1
               FAMILIARITY WITH SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND
                                      PARTIES IN CONGRESS
                 "Are you familiar enough with each of the following to have an
                                    opinion regarding them?"
    Base: All adults
                                           FAMILIAR
                                                                    2009
                          Mar   April   May   June    Aug    Sept   Dec
                           %      %      %      %      %       %      %
    Secretary of State
     Hillary Clinton        85     83     83     81     82      82    82
    Vice President Joe
     Biden                  70     67     69     68     71      70    72
    House Minority
     Leader Nancy
     Pelosi                 68     65     66     66     67      69    71
    Democrats in
     Congress               66     64     64     65     68      69    67
    Republicans in
     Congress               62     61     59     58     63      65    64
    House Speaker John
     Boehner                37   N/a      37   N/a      27    N/a   N/a
    Senate Majority
     Leader Harry Reid      32   N/a    N/a    N/a      39    N/a     44
    Defense Secretary
     Robert Gates           40     44     43     42     45      46    49
    Federal Reserve
     Chairman Ben
     Bernanke               42     43     43     41     44      48  N/a
    Treasury Secretary
     Tim Geithner           35     44     41     39     43      42    43


                                      FAMILIAR
                                              2010   2011
                          Jan    Mar   June   Oct   Jan.    May
                           %      %      %      %     %      %
    Secretary of State
     Hillary Clinton        82     81     81    81     81     87
    Vice President Joe
     Biden                  67     72     71    72     71     78
    House Minority
     Leader Nancy
     Pelosi                 68     69     69    72     69     75
    Democrats in
     Congress               71     68     68    67     66     66
    Republicans in
     Congress               66     67     64    64     63     62
    House Speaker John
     Boehner              N/a    N/a    N/a     37     48     54
    Senate Majority
     Leader Harry Reid    N/a    N/a    N/a   N/a    N/a      53
    Defense Secretary
     Robert Gates           47     48     44    47     47     53
    Federal Reserve
     Chairman Ben
     Bernanke             N/a      49     45    48     45     51
    Treasury Secretary
     Tim Geithner           43     43     39    41     40     43

    Note: N/a indicates not asked; In January 2011 Nancy Pelosi became
    House Minority Leader (from House Speaker) and John Boehner became
    House Speaker (from House Minority Leader).

                                           TABLE 2
            RATINGS OF SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND PARTIES
                                         IN CONGRESS
            "How would you rate the overall job each of the following is doing?"
    Base: All adults
                                     Positive*   Excellent  Pretty  Negative**
                                                             Good
                                         %           %         %         %
    Secretary of State Hillary
     Clinton                                61          22      39          26
    Defense Secretary Robert Gates          37          10      27          16
    Vice President Joe Biden                35          10      26          43
    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
     Bernanke                               22           5      17          29
    House Speaker John Boehner              22           5      17          32
    Treasury Secretary Tim
     Geithner                               17           4      12          27
    House Minority Leader Nancy
     Pelosi                                 24           5      19          51
    Senate Majority Leader Harry
     Reid                                   17           4      13          36
    Republicans in Congress                 18           3      15          44
    Democrats in Congress                   18           4      13          48


                                     Only   Poor      Not
                                     Fair          Familiar
                                       %      %        %
                                      ---    ---      ---
    Secretary of State Hillary
     Clinton                            17     10        13
    Defense Secretary Robert Gates      11      5        47
    Vice President Joe Biden            22     21        22
    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
     Bernanke                           16     13        49
    House Speaker John Boehner          17     15        46
    Treasury Secretary Tim
     Geithner                           11     15        57
    House Minority Leader Nancy
     Pelosi                             17     34        25
    Senate Majority Leader Harry
     Reid                               14     22        47
    Republicans in Congress             19     24        38
    Democrats in Congress               22     26        34
    ---------------------              ---    ---       ---

    *Positive = excellent or pretty good **Negative = only fair or poor;
    In January 2011 Nancy Pelosi became House Minority Leader (from
    House Speaker) and John Boehner became House Speaker (from House
    Minority Leader).

                                TABLE 3
               RATING OF VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN - TREND
    How would you rate the job Vice-President Joe Biden is doing?"
    Base: All adults

                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    May          %          35          43            22
            Jan.         %          33          39            29

    2010    Oct.         %          26          46            28
            June         %          26          45            29
            March        %          29          44            28
            Jan.         %          28          39            33

    2009    Dec.         %          30          42            28
            Sept.        %          30          41            30
            Aug.         %          33          38            29
            June         %          30          38            32
            May          %          32          36            31
            April        %          34          32            33
            March        %          35          35            30
            -----      ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor.  Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                 TABLE 4
          RATING OF SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON - TREND
    How would you rate the job Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is
                                 doing?"
    Base: All adults

                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    May          %          61          26            13
            Jan.         %          50          31            19

    2010    Oct.         %          48          32            19
            June         %          45          35            19
            March        %          48          33            19
            Jan.         %          49          33            18

    2009    Dec.         %          48          34            18
            Sept.        %          48          34            18
            Aug.         %          51          31            18
            June         %          47          34            19
            May          %          50          33            17
            April        %          51          32            17
            March        %          49          36            15
            -----      ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor.  Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                   TABLE 5
               RATING OF DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES - TREND
    How would you rate the job Defense Secretary Robert Gates is doing?"
    Base: All adults

                              Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    May         %          37          16            47
            Jan.        %          30          18            53

    2010    Oct.        %          27          20            53
            June        %          23          20            56
            March       %          27          21            52
            Jan.        %          26          21            53

    2009    Dec.        %          28          21            51
            Sept.       %          28          18            54
            Aug.        %          28          17            55
            June        %          28          13            58
            May         %          28          15            57
            April       %          30          14            56
            March       %          27          13            60
            -----     ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                   TABLE 6
              RATING OF TREASURY SECRETARY TIM GEITHNER - TREND
    How would you rate the job Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is doing?"
    Base: All adults

                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    May          %          17          27            57
            Jan.         %          14          26            60

    2010    Oct.         %          12          29            59
            June         %          10          29            61
            March        %          13          30            57
            Jan.         %          14          29            57

    2009    Dec.         %          15          29            57
            Sept.        %          16          26            58
            Aug.         %          17          26            57
            June         %          15          24            61
            May          %          16          26            59
            April        %          18          26            56
            March        %          11          24            65
            -----      ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                 TABLE 7
          RATING OF HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI - TREND
    How would you rate the job House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is
                                 doing?"
    Base: All adults

                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    May         %           24          51            25
            Jan.        %           22          48            31

    2010    Oct.        %           19          52            28
            June        %           20          49            31
            March       %           16          52            31
            Jan.        %           18          50            32

    2009    Dec.        %           22          49            29
            Sept.       %           20          49            31
            Aug.        %           19          48            33
            June        %           18          49            34
            May         %           21          45            34
            April       %           21          44            35
            March       %           23          45            32
            -----      ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding; until January 2011 Nancy
    Pelosi was House Speaker.

                                 TABLE 8
               RATING OF HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER - TREND
    How would you rate the job House Speaker John Boehner is doing?"
    Base: All adults

                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    May          %          22          32            46
            Jan.         %          22          27            52
    2010    Oct.         %          12          25            63
    ----
    2009    Aug.         %           8          19            73
            March        %           9          16            75
            -----      ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding; Until January 2011 John
    Boehner was House Minority Leader.

                                 TABLE 9
          RATING OF SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID - TREND
    How would you rate the job Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is
                                 doing?"
    Base: All adults

                              Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011     May        %          17          36            47
    ----
    2009     Dec.       %          11          33            56
             Aug.       %          10          29            61
             March      %          12          26            61
             -----    ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor.  Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                  TABLE 10
          RATING OF FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE - TREND
    How would you rate the job Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is
                                  doing?"
    Base: All adults

                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    May         %           22          29            49
            Jan.        %           20          25            55

    2010    Oct.        %           20          28            52
            June        %           17          29            55
            March       %           21          28            51

    2009    Sept.       %           25          23            52
            Aug.        %           20          24            56
            June        %           18          23            59
            May         %           19          24            57
            April       %           20          23            57
            March       %           14          28            58
            -----      ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding

                                TABLE 11
                 RATING OF DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS - TREND
    How would you rate the job the Democrats in Congress are doing?"
    Base: All adults

                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    May          %          18          48            34
            Jan.         %          19          47            34

    2010    Oct.         %          16          51            33
            June         %          14          54            32
            March        %          14          54            32
            Jan.         %          17          54            29

    2009    Dec.         %          18          50            33
            Sept.        %          18          51            31
            Aug.         %          21          47            32
            June         %          21          43            35
            May          %          25          39            36
            April        %          22          42            36
            March        %          25          41            34
            -----      ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                  TABLE 12
                 RATING OF REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS - TREND
    How would you rate the job the Republicans in Congress are doing?"
    Base: All adults

                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    May          %          18          44            38
            Jan.         %          20          44            37

    2010    Oct.         %          14          51            36
            June         %          11          52            36
            March        %          16          51            33
            Jan.         %          16          50            34

    2009    Dec.         %          14          50            36
            Sept.        %          11          54            35
            Aug.         %          12          52            37
            June         %          12          46            42
            May          %          14          45            41
            April        %          14          48            39
            March        %          15          47            38
            -----      ---         ---         ---           ---
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor.  Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J40013

Q1230, 1232

The Harris Poll® #66, June 2, 2011

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.net

SOURCE Harris Interactive


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