AP-GfK Poll: Clinton seen as most likely winner if nominated

Hillary Clinton Remains On Top Post Debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The vast majority of Democrats have a favorable view of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll that shows her recovering lost ground within her own party since the summer.

And among all major candidates for the presidency, she's viewed as most likely to win next November if she is nominated.

Here are some things to know about public opinion on the Democratic field, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll released Tuesday.


Along with being the most popular within her party, Clinton has a big advantage on perceptions she is a general election winner. Nine in 10 Democrats think it would be possible for Clinton to win the general election if she were the nominee, while seven in 10 say the same of Biden.

Democrats are divided on whether Sanders could win a general election, with 52 percent saying he could and 46 percent saying he could not.

It's not just Democrats who view Clinton as a possible winner. Three-quarters of Americans think Clinton could win in a general election, including two-thirds of Republicans.

By comparison, 56 percent of Americans think Biden could win and just 44 percent think Sanders could. Less than half of Americans said they think any of the Republican candidates for president could win in a general election.

See some of Hillary Clinton's best faces:

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AP-GfK Poll: Clinton seen as most likely winner if nominated
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and democratic candidate for U.S. president, gives a thumbs-up to supporters during her introduction at an Iowa launch event in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, June 14, 2015. Hillary Clinton voiced discontent Sunday with the current status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and suggested that she would fight to change it to 'take the lemons and turn it into lemonade.' Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DES MOINES, IOWA - JUNE 14: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets supporters after campaign rally at the Elwell Family Food Center inside the Iowa State Fairgrounds during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, June 14, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 09: Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about Iran at the Brookings Institute September 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. Clinton spoke in favor of the Iran nuclear agreement and its implications for U.S. foreign policy and national security. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, holds a pork chop on a stick and lemonade as she tours the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. Clinton said today she doesn't see the continued scrutiny of her e-mail practices while heading the State Department as a liability for her campaign for the White House. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA - JULY 17: Secretary Hillary Clinton greets, talks, and takes pictures with her Iowa organizers during a pizza party in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday, July 17, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
DOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE: JULY 16 - Secretary Hillary Clinton with voters at her first town Hall meeting in Dover, New Hampshire, on Thursday, July 16, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton arrives to speak on outlining economic vision at the New School in New York on July 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
FLORISSANT, MO - JUNE 23: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters on June 23, 2015 at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri. Clinton's visit to the St. Louis suburb neighboring Ferguson, Missouri focused on racial issues. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JUNE 14: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a campaign event at the the Elwell Family food Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on June 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Clinton officially kicked off her 2016 bid for the White House yesterday during an event on New Yorks Roosevelt Island. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)


Nearly 8 in 10 Democrats now have a favorable opinion of Clinton. That's a slight improvement for Clinton since July, when 7 in 10 Democrats said they viewed Clinton favorably.

It also makes her better rated among Democrats than her two main rivals, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Vice President Joe Biden, who hasn't yet announced whether he will enter the race.

Seven in 10 Democrats view Biden favorably, while half say the same about Sanders. Sanders isn't necessarily unpopular among Democrats, who are about equally likely to have unfavorable opinions of each of the three top Democrats.

But he is still an unknown factor to many within his own party, a third of whom say they don't know enough about him to have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion.

Clinton is the best-liked candidate among self-described liberal Democrats, too, with 84 percent saying they have a positive opinion of her, compared with 76 percent for Biden and 64 percent for Sanders.


Of the three top Democratic contenders, Clinton also has an advantage among Democrats as the candidate most likely to be described as very or somewhat decisive, inspiring, and competent, with large majorities saying each of those words describe her at least somewhat well.

But on some characteristics, Biden would set himself apart from Clinton.

Democrats are more likely to describe Biden than Clinton as at least somewhat honest, 72 percent to 60 percent, and likable, 77 percent to 69 percent.

Biden and Clinton are both viewed as at least somewhat compassionate by over 7 in 10 Democrats, though Biden bests Clinton on that measure among Americans as a whole.

Two-thirds of Democrats say they prefer someone who has experience in Washington and can get things done over someone who is a Washington outsider and can change how things are done -- a desire that appears to favor Clinton or Biden over Sanders.

See Joe Biden at recent events as he mulled over a presidential run:

Joe Biden as he mulls over a presidential run
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AP-GfK Poll: Clinton seen as most likely winner if nominated
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Stephen talks with Vice President Joe Biden, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Thursday Sept 10, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)


After months of speculation over whether he will enter the race for the Democratic nomination, most Americans -- 56 percent -- view Biden as not being only slightly or not at all decisive.

But most Democrats are still willing to give Biden the benefit of the doubt on that measure, with 6 in 10 of them saying the word describes him at least somewhat well


Among Americans as a whole, 41 percent have a favorable opinion of Clinton and 48 percent have an unfavorable opinion. That's essentially unchanged since July, a leveling off for Clinton after a dip in her ratings since earlier in the year.

Clinton continues to struggle with questions about her honesty, as more than 6 in 10 Americans say that word describes her only slightly well or less.

Biden has a favorable rating from 40 percent of Americans and an unfavorable rating from 39 percent. Americans are also about equally split on Sanders, 32 percent favorable to 30 percent unfavorable.

Women are more likely than men to have a favorable opinion of Clinton, 47 percent to 36 percent.


The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online October 15 to October 19, using a sample drawn from GfK's probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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