Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR:
So what’s a candidate to do? For one thing, have realistic expectations about changing people’s minds, one pollster said.
“At this point, for somebody like Hillary Clinton, who’s been in the public eye for so long, you’re just not going to change some of these perceptions,” said G. Evans Witt, principal and CEO at Princeton Survey Research Associates. “You’re not going to move the Republican numbers on Hillary Clinton as trustworthy. That means there’s only a limited range for improvement, no matter what she does.”
One other step: Focus on her strengths. Clinton has one bright spot that pops up in state after state in these polls — her leadership skills. Even when voters view her unfavorably, think she doesn’t understand their problems, or say she’s untrustworthy, they also view her as a strong leader.
And if she does need to clear a likability (or trustworthiness) hurdle — and, importantly, those are two very different things — focusing on her leadership strength could be how she does it.
“Honest and trustworthiness are virtues that we all aspire to, but we are not talking about, ‘Are we going to marry somebody?’ We’re talking about electing a person to president of the United States,” Witt said. “You want to feel that the person you’re supporting for the president is competent. And that is, I think, the emphasis that you’re going to hear from the Clinton campaign.”
In fact, simply emphasizing her leadership credentials and skills could be a way to make people feel that Clinton is more trustworthy and authentic.