Interviews with more than 75 Democratic governors, lawmakers, candidates and party members have laid bare a widespread bewilderment that Mrs. Clinton has allowed a cloud to settle over her candidacy — by using a private email server in the first place, since it was likely to raise questions about her judgment, and by not defusing those questions once and for all when the issue first emerged in March.
With Americans registering their mistrust of Mrs. Clinton in opinion polls, anxious supporters are starting to speak bluntly of fears that she has inadvertently opened the door to a possible challenge for the party’s nomination from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and handed Republicans new ammunition for attacks on her character should she become the nominee.
Hillary Clinton took a new tack this week when answering questions about her use of a private email account as secretary of state: She took responsibility and admitted she was at fault.
“It clearly wasn’t the best choice,” Clinton said flatly on Wednesday, as she campaigned in Iowa.
On Thursday, the reason for the change in tone came into sharper focus with a stunning new poll illustrating the extent to which voters don’t trust Clinton to tell the truth.
While Republicans have been test-driving attacks against Clinton for a year and a half, no other line of attack has broken through to this degree. The numbers in a new Quinnipiac University poll are striking: More than 3-in-5 voters, 61 percent, think Clinton isn’t honest and trustworthy. Overall, Clinton’s favorability ratings slipped to 39 percent — her lowest rating since Quinnipiac began polling on Clinton after she and her husband left the White House.
When voters were asked the first word that came to their mind about Clinton, the top three replies were indictments of her trustworthiness. The No. 1 response was “liar,” followed by “dishonest” and “untrustworthy.” Overall, more than a third of poll respondents said their first thought about Clinton was some version of: She’s a liar.