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60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll: The Clintons

How do you feel about political dynasties in the U.S. and how would you feel if Hillary Clinton were to become the next president? Americans weigh in on the Clinton family

Welcome to the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll for November 2015. With the election of a new president only one year away, this month's poll focuses on the family Clinton. Most people expect that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party's nominee and with that comes a lot of history as well as some questions. Will her husband's legacy help her or hurt her? Will her record as a U.S. senator and secretary of state be an asset or a liability? In a country that is already divided and divisive politically, can she become a unifier? Political junkies on both sides can't wait to find out. How do you feel about political dynasties in the United States and how would you feel if Hillary Clinton were to become the next president? We look forward to your answers to these and many other questions. And now the results....

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When it comes to political dynasties in the U.S., two out of three Americans said they just want the best person and don't care who their family is. Fifteen percent think they are a bad thing because it concentrates power, 8 percent said they are just tired of people named Kennedy, Clinton, and Bush and only 6 percent think it is a good thing because good qualities run in families. Democracy was conceived of in part to stop dynastic succession and the many problems it created. It is ironic that the American people who overthrew monarchic rule more than two centuries ago, still flirt from time to time with a few American families that still have dynastic aspirations.

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A majority of Americans (54 percent) think that Bill Clinton has gotten past the scandals of his presidency and is now considered a respected elder statesman and 37 percent disagree with them. This disagreement is not only divided by politics (80 percent Democrats say yes and 63 percent Republicans say no) but by age as well. Two-thirds of people under 35 consider Bill Clinton's reputation rehabilitated but barely 40 percent of those aged 55 and over with longer memories feel that he has achieved that status.

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Fifty-three percent of Americans think that The Clinton Foundation accepting financial donations from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was serving was a conflict of interest that probably influenced her decisions as secretary of state and 31 percent did not think it was relevant to her job and probably did not influence her decisions. Talk about political, 82 percent of Republicans said it was a conflict of interest versus only 34 percent of Democrats.

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Four out of 10 Americans did not know or had no opinion as to what was the most surprising revelation from Hillary Clinton's emails when she was secretary of state. Twenty-three percent said they were surprised that she had trouble sending faxes, 12 percent that she was a great dancer, 10 percent that she listens to Sidney Blumenthal, 7 percent that she drinks her tea with skim milk, and 7 percent that she watches "The Good Wife."

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A majority of Americans (52 percent) had no idea what Bill Clinton was doing when the World Trade Center was being attacked on 9/11. 16 percent guessed that he was consulting with his lawyers in D.C., 11 percent thought he was meeting Arab donors in New York, 9 percent said visiting Tony Blair in London, and 12 percent correctly guessed that he was on a speaking tour in Australia. Most people can't remember where they went last week let alone where someone else went over 14 years ago.

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Thirty-five percent of Americans correctly identified Martha's Vineyard, Maryland, as the place where the Clintons spent most of their summer vacations while in office. Twenty-one percent thought they were traveling outside the United States, 17 percent guessed Little Rock, Arkansas, where Bill served as Governor, 5 percent fell for Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and 22 percent did not know. The Clintons did vacation twice in Jackson Hole during their eight years in office but they chose the Vineyard the other six summers, and the Obamas have followed suit many times also.

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Have you ever wondered why the Clinton's have remained married after all these years? According to nearly half the country (48 percent) it's nobody's business. Thirty-eight percent said because staying together is good politics for both of them, only 6 percent thought it was because they are still deeply in love and another 6 percent went with the old Neil Sedaka tune because "Breaking up is hard to do." Fifty-six percent of the more cynical Republicans thought it was good politics while 55 percent of the less judgmental Democrats said it was none of their business.

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One out of four Americans correctly chose Evergreen as the Secret Service's code name for Hillary when she was first lady. 23 percent wrongly guessed Eagle which was Bill's code name, a select 13 percent chose Elite, 10 percent went with Chelsea's moniker Energy and 30 percent said they did not know. Either they are good guessers or there are a lot of wonks out there with too much time on their hands if they really knew what Hillary's code name was in the 90s. Even more surprising was that more than a third (34 percent) of people under 30 picked Evergreen. That's beyond guessing right, that's too much time on the Internet.

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What did Americans think of Hillary becoming our next president? Four out of 10 Americans said they hate the idea. A third said they liked the idea of having another Clinton in the White House, 16 percent did not know and 12 percent were willing to "wait for Chelsea."

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By a margin of 2 to 1, Americans think Bill (38 percent) is more talented than Hillary (19 percent). Chelsea got 11 percent and 16 percent went outside the first family and picked George Clinton the singer/songwriter known for his pioneering funkadelic sound. Is it a case of style over substance or charisma over competence? Maybe, but the 2 to 1 split this time was along gender lines (46 percent men and 23 percent women) and three out of 10 women thought the smooth-talking two term president was the more talented Clinton.


This poll was conducted by telephone from September 11-15, 2015 among a random sample of 1,013 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. Read more about this poll