WASHINGTON – Lots of Democrats love Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yet plenty of Republicans, conservatives and all-important independents can’t stand her, suggesting possible pitfalls for Barack Obama should he make her his vice presidential running mate.
The intense dislike for Clinton suggests that besides support from women and others she could bring to the ticket, she might make it harder for Obama to win over some independents, a pivotal swing group in the November election against Republican John McCain. It also means she might push some Republicans and conservatives to vote against the Democrats – or donate money to the GOP – who might otherwise lack motivation to do so because of tepid feelings toward McCain.
A substantial 32 percent of independents strongly dislike Clinton, 10 points more than say so about Obama, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll conducted over the last several months. Independents, a group that both Obama and McCain won during their party primaries this year, composed a quarter of voters in the 2004 election and have been closely contested in every presidential election since 1992.
In addition, 67 percent of Republicans have very unfavorable views of Clinton, 24 percentage points more than feel that way about Obama. Among conservatives the spread is similar – 58 percent say they feel very negatively about her, 18 points more than say so about Obama.
Few conservatives and Republicans are going to vote under any circumstances for Obama. But both parties will be trying to discern whether putting Clinton on the ticket might backfire.
“I don’t think I’d like the idea of Hillary Clinton attached to anything,” said Kym Williams, 33, of Knoxville, Tenn., a Republican who hasn’t decided how to vote in November.
Other groups with significant negative feelings about Clinton than Obama include whites younger than 30, male college graduates, white men and whites earning at least $100,000 a year.
On the other hand, Clinton is popular with other voters, which could make her an asset to Obama. According to the AP-Yahoo survey, the New York senator is viewed significantly more favorably than Obama by many white Democrats, Hispanics and Catholics, groups she carried decisively against Obama in primaries, exit polls showed.
The AP-Yahoo poll involved telephone interviews with 2,124 adults conducted April 2-June 2, though most interviews were in April and all were before Clinton quit the race on Saturday. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.