By Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the most popular U.S. politician, surpassing fellow Democrats President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as well as leading Republicans, a national poll found.
Sixty-one percent of American voters approve of Clinton, a possible U.S. presidential candidate for 2016, while 34 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion, according to the survey by Quinnipiac University released on Friday.
The poll comes one week after Clinton left her post as the nation's top diplomat. Clinton, 65, has said she does not see herself going back to politics but left open the possibility of such a return.
In comparison, 51 percent said they held a "favorable" opinion of Obama while 46 percent had an unfavorable opinion. For Biden, 70, another potential 2016 contender, 46 percent gave him good marks compared to 41 percent who did not.
Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said the results show that after a positive burst for Obama following his re-election in November, the United States is quickly returning to partisan politics.
"The lower approval numbers for the president could be because once the election afterglow is gone, governing inevitably requires decisions that make some voters unhappy," he said, adding that Clinton won over more independents and Republicans.
Leading Republicans, including rising star Marco Rubio, a first-term senator from Florida, saw favorable opinions from one-third or fewer of those surveyed. Continued...