Benghazi Hearings Didn't Improve Americans' Opinions Of Anyone

Hillary Clinton's testimony mostly confirmed what people already thought of the candidate -- and the lawmakers grilling her.
Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton took the stand last week to defend her rol
Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton took the stand last week to defend her role in responding to deadly attacks in Libya,. A new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds Americans overall unimpressed with both her and her Republican questioners.

Americans who tuned into last week's Benghazi hearings weren't too impressed with either Hillary Clinton or the congressional GOP, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.

Overall, those who watched at least clips of the hearings said by a 12-point margin that it worsened, rather than improved, their opinions of both Clinton and her Republican questioners in Congress.

That measure probably overstates how much the hearings changed anyone's minds. Instead, the results largely reflect a stalemate, with the Democrats who already supported her bolstered in their faith, and the Republicans who already opposed her further entrenched in their convictions.

Democrats, who've never been particularly concerned over either Clinton's use of a private email server or her actions in Benghazi, mostly didn't watch the proceedings -- just 40 percent reported seeing even clips of her testimony. A majority of those who did see at least clips say her testimony gave them additional confidence in her.

In contrast, Republicans, who have long cited both the emails and the Benghazi attacks as serious concerns, were more likely to tune in, with two-thirds saying they'd seen some video of the debate. Most say it lessened their views of Clinton.

Just 3 percent of Democrats who watched the hearing said it worsened their opinion of Clinton, while 2 percent of Republicans said it improved their opinion of her.

Watching the hearing actually seemed to reinforce preexisting partisan opinions. Democrats who watched at least some of the hearing were more than twice as likely to approve of Clinton's handling of the attacks in Benghazi than those who didn't, who remained mostly undecided. Republicans who watched were more likely than those who didn't to express strong disapproval.

Those political independents who watched were more likely to lean toward the Republican Party than the Democratic Party -- and they also reacted more similarly to the Republicans than the Democrats, with most saying the questioning had soured their opinions on Clinton.

The hearing has widely been heralded as a win for Clinton, who avoided taking obvious hits and emerged with strengthened support in Democratic primary polling.

The American public, though, isn't entirely ready to lay the issue to rest. Forty-one percent of those polled by HuffPost/YouGov think the investigation into the Benghazi attacks should continue, while just 30 percent believe it should be concluded, and another 29 percent aren't sure. 


The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Oct. 23-25 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls' methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.