Is Nikki Haley the most popular politician in America?

American voters of different partisan stripes don't agree on much nowadays, but they can agree on this: most of them ...

Posted: Apr 26, 2018 8:57 AM
Updated: Apr 26, 2018 8:58 AM

American voters of different partisan stripes don't agree on much nowadays, but they can agree on this: most of them approve of US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

A broad 63% of American voters approve of her job performance vs. only 17% who say they disapprove in a new Quinnipiac University poll. Twenty percent had no opinion. Her approval spans party lines: 75% of Republicans, 63% of independents and even 55% of Democrats say they approve of how she's handling her job.

Her support among Democrats is virtually identical to the share of Democrats who approve of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (56%) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (55%) in the same poll.

Her strong approval rating dwarfs President Donald Trump's approval rating of 39%.

Haley's number climbs higher than those of virtually every active politician on the world stage today. (We should note, though, that approval ratings, which measure job performance, are slightly different than favorability ratings, which tend to hinge more on overall likability.)

Several active politicians, such as former Vice President Joe Biden (58%), Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont (57%) and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona (54%) do have favorability numbers above 50% in recent CNN polling from December 2017 and January 2018. Former President Barack Obama reached a favorability rating of 66% and former President George W. Bush hit 61% in a CNN survey in January. Defense Secretary James Mattis reaches a 59% approval rating in the same survey.

Haley, a former South Carolina governor, has become a vocal public member of the Trump administration's foreign policy team, issuing repeated harsh warnings to North Korea and Syria over her 16 months on the job. She's broken with the President on some controversial topics, such as opposing his proposed "Muslim ban" and drawing a harsher line on US relations with Russia.

Last Sunday, Haley announced that the US was set to impose additional sanctions against Russia in response to the chemical weapons attack in Syria. When the White House later suggested there was some "momentary confusion about that," Haley issued this terse statement in response: "With all due respect, I don't get confused."

It's worth noting that national security and foreign policy positions tend to be more bipartisan than other roles; Haley was overwhelmingly confirmed by a 96-4 margin in the Senate last January.

Some US foreign affairs officials are very popular: As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton's approval rating soared as high as 77% in a CBS News poll in January 2010. Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright earned a 62% favorable rating in a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll in February 1998.

But others struggle: Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson only managed a 31% favorable rating in an October poll from Quinnipiac University. Former UN Ambassador Susan Rice earned only a 35% favorable rating in a 2012 CNN poll.

This Quinnipiac University poll was conducted from April 20-24, 2018 among 1,193 registered voters. The margin of sampling error is -3.4 percentage points for the full sample; it is larger for subgroups.

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