Hillary Clinton left the State Department with a sky-high approval rating. With her broad appeal and presumed White House ambitions, the conventional wisdom, supported by early polls, suggested she would roll to the Democratic nomination in 2016 and then trounce whomever Republicans trotted out to face her.
Yet less than a year removed from her old job, Clinton's popularity has fallen from its once-lofty heights, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out this week.
In the poll, 46 percent of adults expressed a favorable opinion of Clinton, while 33 percent viewed her unfavorably. That's not too shabby — Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) came in with a 17/43 favorable to unfavorable split — but it's well down from January, when 56 percent liked Clinton versus 25 percent who did not.
All told, that means Clinton's net favorability had fallen an astounding 18 points since the start of the year.
The drop is seemingly quite mysterious, given that Clinton has been largely absent from the spotlight for months. It's not like she oversaw a disastrous rollout of an online exchange for health insurance, for example. So why is Clinton bottoming out now?
For one, it's possible her apparent move to campaign mode has polarized people who previously viewed her as more of an apolitical figure during her time as the nation's top diplomat. "It's not that voters all of the sudden have seen a new side of Hillary that has caused them to take a second look," pollster Peter Hart told The Wall Street Journal, but rather that "she is no longer the nonpartisan secretary of state and that brings out the partisan fangs on the part of former supporters."