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How Do Voters Rate Clinton’s Credentials?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Republican nominee Donald Trump trashed his likely Democratic rival's tenure as secretary of State in his convention acceptance speech last night, but as far as voters are concerned, it's Hillary Clinton's biggest professional achievement.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters believe serving as secretary of State is Clinton’s most important professional accomplishment. In distant second is her role as first lady which 16% rate most important. Twelve percent (12%) see her term as a U.S. senator as most important, while nearly as many (11%) say that of her career as a lawyer. A sizable 23% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Among voters who support Clinton in a hypothetical matchup with Trump, 67% think her time as secretary of State is her top professional accomplishment, as do 50% of those who at this point favor some other candidate for the White House. Just eight percent (8%) of those who support Trump share that view; 43% of these voters are undecided.

Most Democrats (57%) consider Clinton serving as secretary of State her biggest professional achievement, but only 20% of Republicans and 35% of voters not affiliated with either major political party agree. Republicans and unaffiliateds rank being first lady as second, while Democrats view her time as a U.S. senator from New York as more significant. Republicans and unaffiliated voters, however, are far more likely than voters in Clinton's party to be undecided.

Republicans and unaffiliated voters tend to see Trump's lifetime of business experience as good training for the White House. Most Democrats do not. GOP voters aren't nearly as worried as the others that Trump's business interests may be a potential conflict of interest problem down the road.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 18-19, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Voters now rate Clinton and Trump equally when it comes to their preparedness for the White House. That’s a noticeable shift in Trump’s favor from April when voters were nearly twice as likely to view Clinton as better qualified than her GOP opponent.

Voters in most demographic categories tend to place Clinton’s term as secretary of State on top of the list of her professional achievements, but some feel more strongly about it than others.

Forty-three percent (43%) of women consider Clinton’s role in the State Department as her most important, compared to 33% of men.

The younger the voter, the more likely he or she is to consider Clinton's service as the nation’s top diplomat to be the most important. Older voters are more likely to be undecided.

Black voters put more emphasis on her role as secretary of State than whites and other minorities do.

Clinton has rebounded into a virtual tie with Trump in Rasmussen Reports’ latest White House Watch survey.

In March of last year when asked to choose the best secretary of State out of the most recent three, 43% of all voters chose Condoleezza Rice, while Clinton came in second with 32%. 

The FBI recently concluded that Clinton was "extremely careless" in her handling of top secret information while secretary of State and potentially exposed top secret information to hostile countries when she used a private e-mail server. Still, FBI Director James Comey said his agency had decided not to pursue a criminal indictment of Clinton, but most voters disagree with that decision

Voters tend to think House Speaker Paul Ryan is just making a political move with his call to block Clinton from receiving intelligence briefings following the FBI's announcement, but voters trust Trump more than Clinton when it comes to handling the nation's secrets. 

After the release last month of the final report by the special congressional committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, nearly half of voters believe Clinton lied to the families of those killed about the nature of the attack. Fifty-one percent (51%) believe the Benghazi issue will hurt Clinton's bid for the presidency.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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