Yet another poll finds that Hillary Clinton is the most popular political figure in the country. The latest survey from Quinnipiac University finds her with 61 percent favorability rating, with only 34 percent who see her negatively. By contrast, President Obama’s favorability is at 51 percent, Joe Biden’s is at 46 percent, and John Boehner’s is at 20 percent.
Of course, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Prior to joining the administration as Secretary of State, Clinton was a popular runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination. She won support from millions of voters, and earned the respect of millions more. For the last four years, she’s been America’s representative to the world—a statesperson, removed from the sturm und drang of partisan politics.
If Clinton decides to run for president, all of this changes. She’ll cease to be “Hillary Clinton: Secretary of State” and instead will revert to “Hillary Clinton: Democrat.” Republicans will remember that they dislike her as much—if not more—than her husband, and her popularity will return to normal heights.
Indeed, it’s all of this that makes me skeptical she’ll run for the White House. If Clinton decides to retire from public life, she will have gone out on top—a successful Secretary of State in a successful presidential administration. If she runs, she risks tarnishing that legacy. And if she loses, she’ll have nothing to show for it besides a lot of stress and a lot of debt.