The title of this post may seem somewhat of an oxymoron, but let’s look at the numbers:

A clear majority of Americans, 59%, still view Hillary Clinton favorably a year after she left her post as secretary of state. Clinton’s current rating is noticeably lower than the 64% she averaged while serving in President Barack Obama’s cabinet.

The last time she had a higher unfavorable than favorable rating in the U.S. was in February 2008, when she was running for the Democratic presidential nomination against Obama. The latest findings come from a Gallup poll conducted Feb. 6-9.

At the time Clinton signed on as Secretary of State under Obama, it was hard to understand.

Those of us who thought it was a bad decision (in the political sense) on her part seem to have been wrong. She is a very smart political animal, and apparently she rightly ascertained that it was only her temporary opposition to the Great Obama that had made her look bad, and that if she joined him it would burnish her image.

And so it has, no matter what she actually did while in his Cabinet, because what she did was every bit as awful as what Obama did, and she did it as his underling.

Somehow, though, that seems to have helped her in the minds of the American public. Her favorability rating is a great deal higher than his right now.

Here’s her favorability chart over time:

hillaryfavorable

Hillary’s favorability ratings have demonstrated some variability over the last two decades, but have never gotten especially bad ever since the public came to know her. Her lowest low was 47, recorded in 1996.

I was trying to think what might have been happening re Clinton back then, and I came up with her Whitewater hearing testimony, which may have been responsible.

At any rate, Clinton has remained remarkably popular for so controversial a figure, soaring into the mid-60s and remaining there during her entire tenure as Secretary of State.

No one ever said Clinton wasn’t smart. She knew exactly what she was doing. As for Benghazi – at this point, what difference does it make?

This is not to say that Hillary Clinton can’t be beaten in 2016. It’s not even 100% certain that she will run, although signs point strongly to it. And a lot can happen in two years.

But anyone who thinks that Clinton is regarded as an unpleasant or unpopular figure by Americans in general, just because she is so very unpopular with conservatives, had better think again. The American people feel they know Hillary, and are unlikely to experience a sudden and extreme reversal of feeling about her.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]