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46% Think Benghazi Will Hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016

Monday, January 20, 2014

Most voters now believe the Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012 died in terrorist attacks, and a growing number think Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations are likely to suffer because of the Benghazi affair.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46% of Likely U.S. Voters think the circumstances surrounding the murder of the U.S. ambassador and three other U.S. Embassy employees in Libya will hurt the former secretary of State if she runs for president in 2016. That’s up from 43% in late October. Just four percent (4%) think the Benghazi issue will help Clinton if she runs for the White House. Thirty-eight percent (38%) say it will have no impact, compared to 41% three months ago. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

A recent New York Times investigation claims that the Obama administration was correct when it first said the Benghazi killings were prompted by an anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube, but a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report released last week says the murders were the result of planned terrorist attacks.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters believe the Americans in Benghazi were killed in planned terrorist attacks. Only 13% think they were killed in a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islamic video. One-in-three voters (34%) are undecided.

Just 28% now rate the administration’s explanation of the events surrounding the murder of the ambassador and the others as good or excellent. That’s down nine points from a high of 37% in October. Forty-five percent (45%) give the administration poor marks for the Benghazi matter, the highest level of dissatisfaction to date.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) think it is at least somewhat important to find out exactly what happened in the events surrounding the murder of the four Americans in Libya, with 47% who say it is Very Important. Nineteen percent (19%) view getting to the bottom of the Benghazi incident as unimportant, but that includes just four percent (4%) who say it’s Not At All Important. This is in line with attitudes since last April.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on January 17-18, 2014 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.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters consider the Benghazi matter a serious scandal, but only 21% think it will still me a major news story by the end of the year.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republicans and 51% of voters not affiliated with either major party think it is Very Important to find out what happened in Benghazi, but only 27% of Democrats agree. While 71% of GOP voters and 51% of unaffiliateds believe the Americans were killed there in planned terrorist attacks, just 41% of Democrats share that assessment.

Democrats aren’t following news stories about the murders in Benghazi as closely as Republicans and unaffiliated voters are, but 49% of voters in President Obama’s party rate his administration’s handling of the incident in Libya as good or excellent. Seventy-five percent (75%) of Republicans and 51% of unaffiliated voters think the administration has done a poor job.

Most Democrats (53%) believe the Benghazi matter will have no impact on Clinton’s potential presidential run. Sixty-five percent (65%) of Republicans and a plurality (45%) of unaffiliated voters think it will hurt her candidacy.

Half of voters over the age of 40 think Clinton’s candidacy will be hurt by the circumstances surrounding the murders in Libya, but just 35% of younger voters agree. Blacks are much less likely than whites and other minority voters to believe Clinton will be hurt by Benghazi in 2016.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of the Political Class say Clinton will feel no impact from the Libya matter in 2016, but 54% of Mainstream voters think she will be hurt by it. Sixty percent (60%) of those in the Mainstream believe the Americans were killed in planned terrorist attacks, a view shared by just 39% of Political Class voters.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of all voters have followed recent news stories about the murders in Benghazi at least somewhat closely, with 40% who have been following Very Closely.

Many political pundits foresee a 2016 presidential contest between Clinton and New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie. In early November, the two ran nearly dead even.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of voters think a woman is likely to be elected president in the next 10 years, with 37% who say it is Very Likely. 

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

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