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Michelle Obama More Popular Than Bill Clinton, Melania Trump

Michelle Obama More Popular Than Bill Clinton, Melania Trump
by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • 64% view Michelle Obama favorably
  • Images of Bill Clinton, Melania Trump about as favorable as unfavorable
  • About half have favorable views of Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka Trump

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While first lady Michelle Obama is not as popular as some of her predecessors, the American public views her far more favorably than either of the potential first spouses in the 2016 election. In contrast to Michelle Obama's 64% favorable and 32% unfavorable scores, Americans are about as likely to view Bill Clinton and Melania Trump positively as they are to view them negatively.

Favorable Ratings of Politicians' Spouses, Among National Adults
Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of that person -- or if you have never heard of them.
Favorable Unfavorable Never heard of/No opinion
% % %
Michelle Obama 64 32 3
Bill Clinton 49 46 4
Melania Trump 38 42 20
Gallup, Aug. 3-7, 2016

These latest data, collected in an Aug. 3-7 Gallup poll, come a little more than a week after the parties' national conventions ended.

Michelle Obama's current favorable rating is up from 58% before the Democratic convention, suggesting her prime-time speech may have caused some Americans to see her in a more positive light.

Although Gallup does not measure first lady favorability ratings frequently, Michelle Obama's favorable ratings have, on average, exceeded those of presidential candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton when she served in the ceremonial role. Obama's average is 65% compared with Clinton's 56%. However, Obama's ratings are not quite as high as those of Laura Bush, who averaged a 73% favorable rating as first lady. Gallup measured opinions of Barbara Bush only near the end of her husband's term as president, but no less than 69%, and typically more than 80%, viewed her positively in 1992 and early 1993.

Both Bill Clinton and Melania Trump gave prime-time addresses at their spouses' respective party conventions, but neither speech did much to change how Americans view them in terms of their net favorability. While Clinton's favorable rating didn't budge, Trump's climbed 10 points after her speech -- but so too did her unfavorable ratings amid the controversy her speech generated over accusations that she plagiarized parts of Michelle Obama's 2008 speech. While Trump is much better known after having given the speech, she is no better liked proportionally to the percentage who view her unfavorably.

Americans are about as likely to view Bill Clinton favorably (49%) as unfavorably (46%) -- nearly identical to his ratings before the convention. This is unusual for a former president, as most presidents enjoy majority favorable ratings after their presidency. George W. Bush has generally been an exception to the rule, but even he had a higher favorable rating than Bill Clinton last month. Clinton's ratings were much higher than his current figure during periods when his wife was not running for office, suggesting that the recently subdued favorables could reflect the political ramifications of his involvement in his wife's current campaign.

Partisanship Influences Americans' Views of Candidates' Spouses

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bill Clinton and Melania Trump are viewed most favorably by Americans who align with the party of their spouses. About seven in 10 Republicans view Trump favorably (69%), while an even higher 84% of Democrats have a favorable view of Clinton.

Clinton is more popular among women than men (54% vs. 45%), while Trump is slightly more popular among men than women (41% vs. 35%).

Trump is most popular among adults aged 50 to 64 (49%) and 65 and older (52%), while Clinton's popularity is greatest among adults younger than 50, a majority of whom view him favorably.

Favorable Ratings of Candidates' Spouses, by Group
Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of that person -- or if you have never heard of them.
Bill Clinton Melania Trump
% Favorable % Favorable
National adults 49 38
Men 45 41
Women 54 35
18 to 29 56 22
30 to 49 56 27
50 to 64 43 49
65+ 45 52
Republicans 11 69
Independents 50 33
Democrats 84 19
Gallup, Aug. 3-7, 2016

Similar Favorable Ratings for Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka Trump

Both major parties' presidential candidates have put their children front and center at many points throughout their respective campaigns, with Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump having introduced their parents before their convention speeches last month.

The candidates' daughters enjoy nearly identical favorable ratings, with about half of Americans viewing them favorably, and three in 10 expressing an unfavorable view. Sizable percentages of Americans have no opinion of either woman -- 19% for Chelsea Clinton and 21% for Ivanka Trump.

Favorable Ratings of Candidates' Children, Among National Adults
Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of that person -- or if you have never heard of them.
Favorable Unfavorable Never heard of/No opinion
% % %
Chelsea Clinton 51 30 19
Ivanka Trump 49 30 21
Gallup, Aug. 3-7, 2016

Both women are viewed most favorably among the parties of their parents' respective affiliations.

While men and women are about equally as likely to view Ivanka Trump favorably, women (60%) are more likely than men (42%) to view Chelsea Clinton favorably -- perhaps partly because her mother is the first female nominee of a major U.S. party.

Favorable Ratings of Candidates' Children, by Group
Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of that person -- or if you have never heard of them.
Chelsea Clinton Ivanka Trump
% Favorable % Favorable
National adults 51 49
Men 42 49
Women 60 48
Republicans 24 75
Independents 51 45
Democrats 80 32
Gallup, Aug. 3-7, 2016

Bottom Line

Campaigns typically employ family members to stand in for them at campaign events and even showcase them nationally to help soften or otherwise improve their image. But Hillary Clinton may receive the biggest boost from the convention speech of Michelle Obama, whose positive standing among nearly two in three Americans makes her one of the Democratic Party's most cherished figures.

Both candidates' daughters are arguably their biggest family assets, as Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump enjoy favorable ratings that significantly outweigh their unfavorable ones.

Although Bill Clinton's status as a former president can be seen as an asset to his wife's campaign, the negative views he receives from Americans nearly cancel out the positive ones. The same can be said for Melania Trump: Any benefits she may provide to her husband's campaign are outweighed by her unfavorable ratings. It's possible that her ratings will improve if she becomes better known to Americans.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 3-7, 2016, with a random sample of 1,032 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Gallup


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