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Hillary Clinton’s standing with the public rises after Benghazi testimony, poll finds

Hillary Clinton at Benghazi hearing

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton leaves after she testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill on Oct. 22.

(Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

The 11 hours Hillary Rodham Clinton spent at the House Benghazi committee last month appears to have been time well spent: The former secretary of State has significantly improved her standing among key groups of voters, a new poll indicates.

Among Democratic primary voters, 72% said they were now satisfied with Clinton’s responses to questions about how she handled the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. That’s up from 58% before her testimony.

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Clinton’s lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont among primary voters also grew slightly, the poll found. It now stands at 62% to 31%

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Clinton made progress as well among swing voters, the survey found. Before her testimony, 84% of swing voters had said they were not satisfied with her responses to questions about Benghazi. In the latest survey, only 40% said so.

That does not mean Clinton has completely persuaded swing voters -- only about 1 in 4 said they were satisfied with her answers. But it does suggest that the testimony has gone a long way toward neutralizing the issue among voters who have not already made up their minds to oppose her.

Clinton also convinced a significant number of voters that her use of a private email server while heading the State Department is not a huge issue.

In mid-October, 47% of voters said the email issue would be an important factor in their decision on whether to vote for Clinton and 44% said it would not be important. Now, the figures have reversed, 48% say the issue will not be important to their vote, and 42% say it will be important to their decision.

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Clinton still has some major deficits with the public. Overall, Americans with a negative view of her outnumber those with a positive view, 47% to 40%. That’s not great, but it’s considerably better than several leading Republicans, including Donald Trump (27% positive and 56% negative) and Jeb Bush (19% positive, 43% negative).

By contrast, although fewer Americans have an opinion about Ben Carson, those who do tend to view the retired neurosurgeon positively, 37% to 24%.

The poll, conducted Oct. 25 through Thursday, surveyed 1000 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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