Still Most Popular? New Poll Asks Public How GOP Spin On Benghazi Affects Their Opinion Of Hillary Clinton

The persistently popular Ms. Hillary Clinton @

The persistently popular Ms. Hillary Clinton @

The problem with politics is that, like any competitive sport, the goal of winning becomes paramount and often leads to a ridiculous amount of less-than-admirable shenanigans that may get one side of the bleachers cheering but leave the field muddied, the players scarred and broken (just look at Lance Armstrong). Dirty play is particularly dispiriting when the ball put into play ends up being a hollow one, tossed in hopes of setting the crowd into a frenzy with some theory, idea, controversy, scandal, only to have the entire play fizzle. It seems the Republican toss-up on the Benghazi vs. Hillary Clinton story is not only not gaining traction, it’s garnering the kind of polling results that make clear it is backfiring.

While senators, congressmen, pundits and breathless pontificators work hard to turn Benghazi into a scandal on a par with Watergate (George Will mentions “impeachment,” Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) accuses then-CIA Director David Petraeus of  “carrying the White House’s water in Benghazi” while other Republicans beat the drum about more “whistleblowers“), many of them attacking Hillary Clinton as if she were personally responsible for the death of 4 Americans, a new poll shows Americans just aren’t buying it.

Public Policy Polling, a respected source of both business and political polling, has released a new poll today bluntly titled, Voters trust Clinton over GOP on Benghazi. That’s pretty on-the-nose. And not exactly what the GOP had in mind.

Voters trust Hillary Clinton over Congressional Republicans on the issue of Benghazi by a 49/39 margin and Clinton’s +8 net favorability rating at 52/44 is identical to what it was on our last national poll in late March. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans remain very unpopular with a 36/57 favorability rating.

Voters think Congress should be more focused on other major issues right now rather than Benghazi. By a 56/38 margin they say passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill is more important than continuing to focus on Benghazi, and by a 52/43 spread they think passing a bill requiring background checks for all gun sales should be a higher priority.

Surely this must be disconcerting to those in the Republican party convinced there’s a scandal here to be had. While the attack and subsequent deaths of 4 Americans is nothing to be dismissed, easily or otherwise, the craven effort of the opposing party to frame it as an act of gross negligence or actual criminal behavior is repugnant to many; former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke on Face the Nation on Sunday to assert that ”I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were.”

Of course, Republicans in the poll had a predictable response, with a head-shaking 41% asserting that Benghazi is the “biggest political scandal in American history,” while, ironically or not, 39% don’t even know where Benghazi is:

10% think it’s in Egypt, 9% in Iran, 6% in Cuba, 5% in Syria, 4% in Iraq, and 1% each in North Korea and Liberia with 4% not willing to venture a guess. [… ]

Republicans think by a 74/19 margin than Benghazi is a worse political scandal than Watergate, by a 74/12 margin that it’s worse than Teapot Dome, and by a 70/20 margin that it’s worse than Iran Contra.

Only 10% of Democrats are as convinced of its scandal-worthiness; 20% of Independents.

The bottom line appears to be that, however you parse the numbers and despite the best efforts of those who’ve made a career of trying to take Hillary Clinton down (there’s already a 2016 attack ad financed by Karl Rove’s Super PAC, American Crossroads), her enemies are are getting, well, nowhere. Per the poll:

Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers aren’t declining…

GOP heads must be spinning. Back to the drawing board, boys!

For full poll results click here.



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