Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

Just before the year 2000, the New York Post asked readers to rank the most evil person of the millennium.

Hillary Clinton finished sixth in that survey, ranking among the likes of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and ironically, her husband, Bill.

Now just five years later, New Yorkers apparently have a different view of the woman they elected as U.S. senator in 2002.

According to a new survey by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, nearly two out of every three voters in the Empire State – 64 percent – say she is honest and trustworthy.

The jump is significant, as the same poll in September 2000 had New Yorkers split on Clinton’s honesty, 45 to 44 percent.

Among Republicans in the new survey, 38 percent say she is honest, along with 85 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independent voters.

Clinton’s job-approval rating now stands at 65 percent, an all-time high for the Democrat, rising from 38 percent five years ago.

“Remember when Sen. Hillary Clinton took office four years ago? Her husband had just pardoned Marc Rich and the Clintons were accused of looting White House furniture. Now? Two-thirds of New Yorkers say she’s a good – and honest – senator,” said Maurice Carroll, director of Quinnipiac’s Polling Institute. “State Republican leaders want Mayor Giuliani to challenge Sen. Clinton next year, and that could be a close race. But Clinton would bury Gov. Pataki.”

The survey found Sen. Clinton leading Pataki 61 to 30 percent, and Giuliani 50 to 44 percent.

In another question, offering four choices for Clinton’s future, a total of 55 percent of Democratic voters say she should run for the White House in 2008. Results are:

  • 35 percent of Democrats say she should run for re-election as senator in 2006;

  • 13 percent say she should run for president in 2008;

  • 42 percent of Democrats, say she should run for both senator and president;

  • 7 percent say she should not run for either office.

    “‘Go for it all,’ New York Democrats urge Sen. Clinton. Run for re-election or run for president, or do a two-fer with a Senate run in ’06 and a White House run in ’08,” Carroll said. “Obviously, Republican and independent voters are less enthused.”

    In mid 2003, another poll of New York voters had vastly different results.

    The survey by Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., found 58 percent of registered New York state voters didn’t want Hillary to run for the nation’s highest office – not in 2004 nor anytime in the future.

    Judging Clinton on other character traits, New York voters now say:

  • 74 percent that she has strong leadership qualities;

  • 65 percent that she cares about their needs and problems.

    The poll was conducted Feb. 3 through Feb. 7, surveying 1,218 New York State registered voters, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

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