Clinton Has Weathered Early Storms, Poll Suggests

NYT FDMaggie Haberman May 6, 2015

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Good Wednesday morning from Washington, where the Senate has passed a budget, and is thinking about giving some help to the United States bourbon industry. Hillary Rodham Clinton heads to California to raise some cash and might be breathing a little easier since controversies have seemed to gain little traction with voters.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has been under siege with questions about the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donations. But so far, there’s little evidence it has sunk in with voters.

In a New York Times/CBS News poll, a plurality of Americans – 44 percent – said they didn’t know enough to answer questions about whether the Clinton Foundation’s focus is mostly charitable, mostly political or both. That included 45 percent of self-described independents.

On the question of whether foreign donations affected Mrs. Clinton’s decisions while she was secretary of state, 55 percent said they didn’t know enough to answer. Among them were 61 percent of independents.

The survey had 1,027 respondents and was conducted from April 30 through May 3.

The numbers could mean that voters aren’t engaged at this early stage of the campaign. Or it could mean they’re aware of the stories about the foundation but are tuning them out.

The poll also shows that Mrs. Clinton’s favorability has improved and that Democrats do not appear troubled by the email and foundation issues.

The discussion around the foundation was prompted primarily by the book “Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer, a Republican. It focuses on possible overlaps with the Clintons’ personal wealth, donations to the foundation and her tenure at the State Department. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign responded with an aggressive pushback effort against the book.

Unlike the stories about Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, the issues around the foundation are diffuse, more complicated and less stark. Most readers have an email account; far fewer have foundations, making the email story, perhaps, more accessible for voters.