Which Former President’s Popularity is Sinking Like a Stone?

According to a new University of Virginia Center for Politics poll, Hillary Clinton’s disastrous campaign for president might have taken a toll on her husband’s legacy. The poll found that in the wake of the 2016 election, fewer Americans than ever would want to see Bill Clinton back in the White House.

The poll asked respondents which former president they’d like to see back in control of the federal government. When asked in 2012, 21% of people said they’d enjoy having Slick Willie sitting in the Oval Office once again. But when asked last week, only 6% said the same.

Poll director Larry Sabato said the 2016 campaign undoubtedly played a huge role in Clinton’s cratering popularity numbers.

“In 2012, Hillary Clinton had strong favorability nationally while she was secretary of state,” said Sabato. “Once she re-entered the political fray and was the target of negative attacks for two years, her numbers eroded significantly, and that erosion appears to apply to her husband as well.”

As for which presidents the public would like to see back in the White House? FDR, Abe Lincoln, Obama, and JFK all performed better than Clinton, but there’s only one man at the top of the list. 23% of Americans say they would love to have Ronald Reagan take back the presidency – a clear sign that the Gipper’s adoration has only grown in the years since he pushed the U.S. to some of its most soaring heights.

The poll split along partisan lines, naturally, which may also explain to some degree why Reagan performed so well and Clinton so poorly. Democrats – strangely enough – largely chose Obama when asked which former president they would want back in the White House. That left Clinton out in the cold. On the Republican side, it was no contest: 50% chose Reagan. Which is not surprising, given W.’s shaky reputation and his father’s relatively quiet presidency. Neither of them were ever a match for Reagan’s uplifting rhetorical style, his charisma, or his masterful take on the U.S. economy.


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