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Inside the numbers: The indestructible Clintons?

"Booming," "sky-high," and "formidable" are just a sampling of the adjectives often used to describe Hillary Clinton's popularity, as DC pundits speculate about her perceived ambitions for 2016.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton attend a dinner for Kennedy honorees on Dec. 1, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

It's correct that Clinton (bested only by her husband Bill) enjoys the second highest approval rating of the public figures we asked about in our most recent NBC/WSJ poll. With a 58% positive / 28% negative split overall (and 100 percent name recognition), she has the kind of numbers that most political figures experience only in daydreams.

And it's also worth noting that neither she nor her husband are strangers to the political doldrums. In April 2008, as her prospects for a primary comeback waned, she had a net negative overall approval rating. When Bill Clinton left the presidency, after his controversial pardon of Marc Rich, just 34 percent of Americans viewed him positively. 

But as both have seen their numbers rebound to their current highs, are the Clintons' stores of political goodwill  -- built up by a couple that has largely stayed above the political fray since the end of the 2008 election -- resilient enough to bolster another run for the presidency by Hillary? 

Here's a look at where both Clintons stand right now with some of the groups that make up a campaign-building coalition.

(As with all deep dives into cross-tabs, insert caveat here that the margin of error for these subgroups is by definition higher than the poll's overall MOE of +/- 3.10%.) 

Hillary Clinton enjoys a 70 percent approval rating among women. Almost seven-in-ten Hispanic respondents and and 87 percent of African-Americans also said they view her positively.

While she is hardly beloved by the party she once derided for its penchant for "right wing conspiracy," her marks with Republicans are better than the current president's. A quarter of Republicans in the NBC/WSJ survey gave her positive ratings, while 52 percent of independents said the same. (Compare that to 10 percent of GOP respondents and 45 percent of indies for Obama.) 

Other than being slightly underwater among white men, she has net positive ratings among almost every key constituency, with notable strength among suburban women (+44 points), blue collar workers (+24 points) and retirees (+18 points). 

And then there's Bill. 

The former president, who once stood at the brink of impeachment, has nearly regained the popularity he enjoyed at his first inauguration in 1993. Just a quarter of the poll's respondents said they view Bill Clinton negatively. His numbers with Republicans and independents are comparable to his wife's, but his overall popularity is buoyed by strength among white men, who view him positively by a margin of more than 30 points. 

Both Clintons are also unsurprisingly strong with the Democratic base -- a data point that's notable only in light of the blistering attacks both launched on Barack Obama during the 2007-2008 primary battle. Disapproval for either barely registers among respondents who classified themselves as liberals or core Democrats. 

None of this is to say that the daily volleys of a possible campaign wouldn't create some cracks in the Clintonian armor; Hillary Clinton's approval rating dropped by 10 points in the two bruising months after the Iowa caucuses in 2008, for example. 

What goes up, both pols know, can come down. 

But for now, speculators, "formidable" is fine.