Hillary Clinton’s Standing With Public Rises After Benghazi Testimony, Poll Finds

WASHINGTON (Tribune Washington Bureau/TNS) -

The 11 hours Hillary Clinton spent at the House Benghazi committee last month appears to have been time well spent: The former secretary of state has significantly improved her standing among key groups of voters, a new poll indicates.

Among Democratic primary voters, 72 percent said they were now satisfied with Clinton’s responses to questions about how she handled the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. That’s up from 58 percent before her testimony.

Clinton’s lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont among primary voters also grew slightly, the poll found. It now stands at 62 percent to 31 percent.

Clinton made progress as well among swing voters, the survey found. Before her testimony, 84 percent of swing voters said they were not satisfied with her responses to questions about Benghazi. In the latest survey, only 40 percent said so.

That does not mean Clinton has completely persuaded swing voters; only about one in four said they were satisfied with her answers. But it does suggest that the testimony has gone a long way toward neutralizing the issue among voters who have not already made up their minds to oppose her.

Clinton also convinced a significant number of voters that her use of a private email server while heading the State Department is not a huge issue.

In mid-October, 47 percent of voters said the email issue would be an important factor in their decision on whether to vote for Clinton and 44 percent said it would not be important. Now, the figures have reversed: 48 percent say the issue will not be important to their vote, and 42 percent say it will be important to their decision.

Clinton still has some major deficits with the public. Overall, Americans with a negative view of her outnumber those with a positive view, 47 percent to 40 percent. That’s not great, but it’s considerably better than several leading Republicans, including Donald Trump (27 percent positive and 56 percent negative) and Jeb Bush (19 percent positive, 43 percent negative).

By contrast, although fewer Americans have an opinion about Ben Carson, those who do tend to view the retired neurosurgeon positively, 37 percent to 24 percent.

The poll, conducted Oct. 25 through Thursday, surveyed 1000 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.