Michelle Obama's Formidable Favorables
More than three-quarters of Americans hold a positive view of First Lady Michelle Obama, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with nearly half saying they have a "strongly favorable" opinion.
Since the inauguration, Michelle Obama's overall favorable rating has risen slightly, up four points to 76 percent, while the percentage with a strongly favorable view has climbed eight to 46 percent, including a 10-point spike in strongly positive opinions among independents.
Michelle Obama began her husband's campaign for the general election with a net positive favorable rating in June of last year, but at the time, nearly as many had strongly negative views as strongly positive ones (18 percent to 21 percent, respectively). She was also an unfamiliar figure to a sizable chunk of the population, nearly a quarter held no opinion. Now, recognizable by nearly all, strongly favorable opinions outweigh strongly unfavorable views by nearly seven to one.
The recent rise in Obama's overall favorability stems largely from improvement among Republicans. Just before the inauguration, 47 percent had a positive take on the soon-to-be-FLOTUS, now 59 percent view her positively. Republican men in particular have warmed to her - 63 percent have a favorable opinion, up from 44 percent in January and 18 percent in June.
Nearly nine in 10 (85 percent) urbanites have a favorable view of the city-born First Lady (54 percent of city-dwellers have strongly favorable views). But Obama holds her own in the suburbs and rural areas as well - about seven in 10 suburbanites and rural denizens see her in a positive light.
Among women, strongly favorable opinions of Obama top 50 percent for the first time; among men deeply positive impressions lag behind at 35 percent. Women with children, a target audience for the self-dubbed "Mom in Chief," are broadly receptive, 79 percent see her favorably, 50 percent strongly so.
White voters were a particular sticking point during the campaign, but Michelle Obama has gained ground with the group. Her overall favorability among whites has climbed from 41 percent in June to 74 percent now, with a steep increase among white men: 33 percent saw her positively as the campaign began, 71 percent do so now.
The current first lady's high mark nears former first lady Barbara Bush's high mark of 85 percent in Gallup polling conducted near the end of her husband's term, and approaches Laura Bush's top Gallup reading of 80 percent favorable, achieved as her husband was inaugurated for a second time.
Secretary of state and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton topped out at 64 percent favorable in Post-ABC polling in the second half of 1998, as her husband's administration was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
The nation's affection for Michelle Obama is not necessarily dependent on positive views of her husband - nearly half (47 percent) of those who disapprove of his job performance so far hold a favorable opinion of her.
Q. Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Michelle Obama?
(% saying "favorable")
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