POLITICS

You Won't Be Surprised To Hear That Hillary Clinton's Emails Are More Divisive Than Ever

03/13/2015 04:14 pm ET | Updated Mar 13, 2015

After a week of stories about Hillary Clinton's use of email during her time as secretary of state, the controversy is more polarizing than ever. A new poll shows that Republicans are increasingly convinced of the issue's importance and Democrats are increasingly sure that the media is overhyping things, while independents remain somewhere in between.

In the aftermath of Clinton's press conference Tuesday, during which she fielded a number of questions about her use of a personal email account, attention to the story has continued to grow, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. Sixty-five percent of Americans now say they're following the story at least somewhat closely, up from 53 percent in a survey last week. The percent of Americans who call the issue at least somewhat serious has also ticked up, from 47 percent to 54 percent.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the gulf between Republicans' and Democrats' views of the situation has grown as well.

In the earlier poll, Republicans were 27 points more likely than Democrats to consider the email issue "very serious." That partisan gap now stands at 52 points, with members of the two parties moving in opposite directions.

Democrats, many of whom were convinced during the 2008 campaign that the media was biased against Clinton, are becoming more likely to view the controversy over the emails as overhyped. Seventy-one percent now say the media is making too big a deal out of the story, up 9 points from last week. A majority of Republicans, by contrast, continue to think the story isn't getting enough attention. Independents, who were closely divided last week in their opinions about the media response, are now more 8 points more likely to say the media is overhyping the controversy than to say it's being under-reported.

That doesn't mean independents aren't at all concerned. Thirty-four percent of political independents now say Clinton's use of a personal account is very serious, up 8 points since last week. But those independents are also the least likely to be paying much attention, with 57 percent saying they're following the email story at least somewhat closely, compared to 78 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats.

There's not yet much data to indicate whether the saga has affected Clinton's ratings, but the numbers that are available suggest it may have taken a small toll. In the latest HuffPost/YouGov poll, the former secretary of state is just underwater, with 44 percent rating her positively and 45 percent negatively. That's near the bottom of where's she's stood since the 2014 midterm elections, according to a series of YouGov/Economist polls using the same question and methodology. Those polls have found Clinton's favorable rating ranging between 43 percent and 52 percent.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 11-13 among U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the poll's methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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