Hillary Clinton scored big with voters, a new poll shows, after the House Benghazi Committee hearing last month in which mostly Republican congress members grilled the former Secretary of State for a grueling 11 hours over her response to the September 11, 2012, attacks on a United States diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.
The poll, conducted jointly by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News, shows that not only did Clinton — the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — win over a significant number of voters who had previously been skeptical of her explanations of how the Benghazi tragedy was handled inside the State Department, she also eased voter concerns over her use of a personal email account while she held the Secretary of State job.
The favorable response came mainly from Democratic and swing voters, according to the poll. Republican voters appear to have an fixed and unchanging view of Clinton.
Overall, only 38 percent of voters now say they remain unsatisfied with how Clinton explains her role in the administration response to the Benghazi attacks — compared to 44 percent who were unsatisfied before the marathon October 22 hearing on Capitol Hill, according to the Wall Street Journal report on the new poll.
At the same time, the Benghazi hearing seems to have boosted Clinton’s lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders among voters likely to cast ballots in the Democratic primaries. The former First Lady and New York Senator now leads Sanders by a seemingly unbeatable 31 percentage points, 62 percent to 31 percent.
The Benghazi hearing appears to have made the biggest impact among swing voters, those who have not committed to voting for a candidate based on party lines. Before the bizarre and widely publicized hearing — which featured one Republican representative asking Clinton whether Stevens had her home phone number, and another demanding to know if she spent the night alone on the date of the attacks — only six percent of swing voters described themselves as satisfied with Clinton’s Benghazi response, and a whopping 84 percent said they were not satisfied.
But after the hearing, those numbers look radically different — and better for Hillary Clinton. In the WSJ/NBC poll, 23 percent of swing voters now call themselves satisfied with her response while the number of dissatisfied swing voters fell by more than half, to just 40 percent.
Democratic voters, not surprisingly, exhibited the most positive response to Clinton’s performance at the Benghazi Committee hearing. Before the hearing, only 58 percent of Democratic voters were satisfied with Clinton on Benghazi. After the hearing, that share rose to 72 percent — nearly three out of every four.
The bounce in public standing she received from what was widely seen as her solidly professional and unflappable testimony over the 11 hours of relentlessly harsh questioning appears to have given Hillary Clinton a new confidence as a presidential candidate. On Monday, she debuted a new campaign ad on an issue that has usually caused presidential candidates to shy away — gun control. That new ad can be viewed in the video, below.
Of course, Clinton’s testimony did not receive positive views all around. Only seven percent of republican voters called themselves satisfied with her Benghazi answers, a number basically unchanged from prior to the hearing.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who many political experts predict will emerge as the Republocan nominee for president in 2016 (see the article at this link for a full explanation of the Rubio predictions) continued to attack Clinton on Benghazi last week, claiming that she “lied” in her testimony, when she denied blaming the attack on an anti-Muslim online video. But analysis of Rubio’s claims shows that Clinton never actually made the claims attributed to her by Rubio.
In addition, the new poll numbers showed a drop from 48 percent to 42 percent in the share of voters who said that Clinton’s use of a private email account would be an important factor in whether or not to vote for her — yet more good news for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
[Featured Photo By Scott Olson / Getty Images]