Gallup Poll: Michelle Obama Far More Popular Than President

Monday, 03 Mar 2014 10:06 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Nearly seven of every 10 U.S. adults has a favorable opinion of the nation's first lady, Michelle Obama, though her ratings lag behind those of former first ladies Laura Bush and Barbara Bush when they were in the White House, a Gallup poll showed Monday.

She has a 66 percent average rating — a full 10 percentage points above Hillary Clinton's rating during her time as first lady, the poll noted.

But Americans' good opinion of the current first lady doesn't measure up to Laura Bush's 73 percent favorability rating or Barbara Bush's 77 percent, the poll showed.

"Clinton's role in trying to pass a controversial national healthcare reform law may have contributed to her comparatively lower ratings, while the rally effect after 9/11 may have given Laura Bush's ratings a boost," Gallup analyst Alyssa Brown said.

Gallup began the first ladies' favorability ratings in 1992.

The current first lady beats her husband's 52 percent favorability rating as well, the poll found — and she does far better with Republicans than he does, winning a 43 percent favorability rating compared with President Barack Obama's 18 percent favorability.

"First ladies are typically viewed more positively than presidents, likely because their roles are often more ceremonial and invite less criticism compared with the president's active political and policymaking role," Brown said.

"Laura Bush and Barbara Bush were each viewed more favorably than their husbands while they were in the White House. The recent exception is Hillary Clinton, whose favorable ratings were generally lower than Bill Clinton's until the Monica Lewinsky scandal."

Michelle Obama hit a high of 72 percent favorability in 2009.

The margin of error in the current poll was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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