Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Popularity contest


People talk about Hillary Clinton’s poll-reported unpopularity as though it represented some natural fact about her. A failure of character, or a judgement on her weakness as a politician or human being. But it hasn’t always been that way. Just to check my memory, I looked up Gallup’s record: In April 2013 64 percent of Americans surveyed had a favorable impression of her, as against 31 percent with an unfavorable impression. In May 2016 it was nearly reversed: 39 percent favorable, 54 percent unfavorable. Were there dastardly revelations about her character or public conduct in the interim?  Or did she just happen to be the frontrunner in an ideologically heated Democratic primary? (By pure coincidence, the last time her relative favorability was negative was October 2000. I can’t remember what was going on then…)

As for Donald Trump (“Businessman Donald Trump”, as Gallup terms him) there has been only one Gallup survey — in June 2005 — that gave him a positive margin (51 to 38, so it wasn’t even close). Otherwise, every Gallup survey since they first asked about him in 1999 has negative favorability, usually by a wide margin.

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