American voters like Hillary Clinton. She is leading the Democratic primary polls by a landslide. According to the latest RealClearPolitics estimate, Clinton has 60.8 of the vote. Bernie Sanders is in second with a comparatively measly 15.2 percent.
A recent AP poll also found that 39 percent of voters hold a “favorable impression” of Clinton. That number may seem low, but it was actually the highest percentage any 2016 presidential candidate received. Only Barack Obama, at 46 percent, was perceived more favorably. The polls clearly show that Clinton is well-liked, especially compared to other 2016 candidates and especially among Democratic voters.
The polls also show that many voters have trust issues with Clinton and her campaign. According to Breitbart, Clinton’s “honest and trustworthy” rating has been falling in almost every state since she launched her 2016 campaign. A CNN poll conducted in May found that a slight majority of respondents — 52 percent — answered “no” when asked whether Clinton is “honest and trustworthy.” According to a recent AP poll, only 30 percent of voters claimed the word “honest” described her “very” or “somewhat well.” There are several reasons why Clinton is perceived as untrustworthy. The major reason is her use of a personal email account as Secretary of State.
Another is the secrecy surrounding Benghazi and the U.S. military campaign in Libya. Most of those accusations come from the right, but liberals have trust problems with their expected candidate as well. Democrats take issue with the fact that Clinton has received massive amounts of money from major corporations, and that she’s not as forthright about her opinions on issues like the TPP or the Keystone XL pipeline.
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Much of the skepticism surrounding Clinton can be attributed to media coverage of her campaign. Even CNN, which was expected to be relatively soft in Clinton’s first televised interview as a 2016 presidential candidate, forced her to answer questions about her e-mail accounts. In that interview, Clinton said, “People should and do trust me.” She also dismissed accusations of her untrustworthiness as sensationalist fodder for the conservative media. “This has been a theme that has been used against me and my husband for many, many years,” Clinton said. “At the end of the day, I think voters sort it all out. I have great confidence, and I trust the American voter 100 percent.” That level of trust doesn't go both ways.
Whether inspired by media coverage or not, an increasing amount of voters are having trouble trusting Clinton. The aforementioned AP poll also included a few quotes from respondents. “I used to like her, but I don’t trust her,” Louisville, Kentucky’s Donald Waters told the AP.
“Ever since she’s announced her candidacy for the presidency I just haven’t liked the way she’s handled things. She doesn’t answer questions directly.” That seems to be the general consensus. Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, claimed that trust issues with Clinton should be more alarming to her campaign than the increasing support for GOP candidates in swing states. “Most of the eight GOP hopefuls are within striking distance of Secretary Hillary Clinton in at least one of the three states (Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania). In Ohio, Gov. Kasich leads,” Brown said. “But perhaps more troubling for her than the continuing slide is how she is perceived by voters who continue to say she is not honest and trustworthy.”
It is easy to like Clinton. The majority of Democratic primary voters support her because she’s a recognizable name with years of experience in Washington. She’ll continue the liberal policies established by the Obama administration but conduct her presidency with crucial differences.
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It is also easy to distrust Clinton. She’s more apt to flip-flop than straight-shooting candidates like Bernie Sanders. She voted for the Iraq War and opposed gay marriage until the polls said she should support it. She speaks like a politician; dodging questions and giving vague answers. She corralled members of the media behind a moving rope line during an appearance in New Hampshire. At some point, the trust issues voters have with Clinton will catch up to her campaign.
As the popularity of bluntly speaking candidates like Sanders and Trump in the polls has shown, voters value honesty. Clinton still has plenty of time to regain voters’ trust before she loses the massive amount of support she has, but she also has a lot of work to do. She doesn’t need to defend herself against constant attacks from the conservative media about her email accounts, but she does need to start speaking truthfully about the most important issues affecting the nation.