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Poll shows Clinton slipping in trustworthiness among voters

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the America Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Monday, March 23, 2015, in Washington.

Hillary Clinton’s email scandal has hurt her public image and trustworthiness in three presidential election swing states, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.

The survey conducted in Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio shows her once significant lead over possible GOP rivals dwindled in the months after the email scandal that revealed she intentionally used a private email server when secretary of State under President Obama.

Last week it was learned Clinton deleted all the emails on that server last fall; House Republican leaders are weighing whether to attempt to force Clinton to hand over her personal email server.

The State Department said Tuesday it can find only four emails sent between Clinton and her staff concerning drone strikes and certain U.S. surveillance programs, and the notes have little to do with either subject. Officials last week said Clinton deleted emails on the server last fall.

Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy for president next month.

Most poll respondents in Florida (50 percent to 41 percent) and Pennsylvania (49 to 44 percent) said she was not honest and trustworthy, the poll found. In Ohio, voters by a slim margin of 47 percent to 46 percent said she is trustworthy.

The poll focused on the three states because no candidate has won the presidency without winning two of the three.

The poll showed Clinton’s favorability among Pennsylvanians at 48 percent for and 47 percent against, down from 55-38 percent in February. It found that Keystone State voters, by a 52-47 percent margin, said her email problems would be important to their vote.

“We have a long way to Election Day and, quite frankly, Hillary Clinton has not begun to run her campaign yet,” said Dane Strother, a Democratic strategist in Washington. He said a Clinton campaign would give her the chance to tell her story and “punch back” with her own voice.

“There really is only one way you fix this slide in the polls and that is to begin the campaign,” he said.

Pennsylvanians helped President Obama in 2008, choosing him over Republican nominee Sen. John McCain by more than 10 percentage points. Obama was the fifth Democrat in a row to carry the state.

Clinton beat Obama in the 2008 primary contest here by nearly 10 points.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who was born in Pittsburgh, beat Clinton 45 percent to 44 percent among poll respondents. In February’s poll, Clinton led Paul 53 percent to 34 percent.

“We call this a big red flag in blue state Pennsylvania — she went from formidable before the scandal to tied with Rand Paul,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush fared well in his home state in a head-to-head match-up in the poll, getting 45 percent to Clinton’s 42 percent. And in Ohio, every potential Republican contender gained on Clinton since February.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,036 registered Pennsylvania voters from March 17-28, and similar numbers in Ohio and Florida. The poll has an error margin of 3 percentage points.

Salena Zito is a Trib Total Media staff writer. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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