By Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's favorability rating is dropping, signaling an end to her era of high favorability even before she announces her run for president, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.
Although a majority of Americans continue to view her in a positive light, the former First Lady's favorability rate slipped from 59 percent in February to 54 percent as she publicizes her new memoir, "Hard Choices."
Her popularity is significantly lower now than while she served as Secretary of State, when she consistently passed the 60 percent mark, Gallup found.
Though Hillary Clinton has said she will not announce whether she will run for president until later this year, her latest book is seen as setting the stage for another presidential bid.
She already has the support of many elected officials and Democratic Party representatives if she chooses to run. Her favorability soared while she served as Secretary of State during Obama's first term, with two-thirds of Americans -- 66 percent -- viewing her favorably in consecutive polls in 2011 and 2012.
As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton enjoyed extremely high ratings from fellow Democrats and saw her ratings increase among Republicans as well.
Her numbers peaked with Republicans in mid-2012 when 41 percent viewed her favorably, but fell with the Republicans and independents after the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, Gallup found.
But Hillary Clinton's current favorability rating is the lowest since August 2008 when she was preparing to deliver a speech at the Democratic National Convention endorsing then-Senator Barack Obama, who defeated her in a hard-fought primary battle for the party's 2008 presidential nomination.
Republican operatives and media pundits have also publicly questioned whether Clinton's health and age, at 66 now, could hinder her ability to serve as president.
Former president Bill Clinton, who in the same poll received a 64 percent favorable rating, has commanded majority favorability from Americans during most of his time as president and in post- presidential life, Gallup said.
Some may view Bill Clinton's high favorability ratings as an advantage for Hillary if she decides on another presidential run. But Bill's favorability did take a hit when he joined her on the 2008 campaign trail.
By January 2008 -- a year after Hillary announced her candidacy- - his favorability hit a five-year low of 50 percent, barely ahead of Hillary's 48 percent, Gallup found.