Michelle Obama and even John Kerry much better liked than Barack now
By Andrew Malcolm
Posted 03/05/2014 09:08 AM ET
While President Obama's approval, credibility and trust poll numbers sink into a black sea, the polls on his wife and Secretary of State aren't that great either.
Their numbers are much better than POTUS, according to Gallup. But neither Kerry nor Mrs. Obama is as widely approved by Americans as their recent predecessors. With one exception.
Go figure, eh?
Kerry's highest personal favorability came years ago when he won the Iowa caucus in 2004 -- 61%. After that, it was pretty much downhill, to 52% on election day and 44% 11 months ago.
Even in September during his boss' Syria red-line mess, when Kerry announced his country was going to attack Syria but just a teeny, tiny, not-really-so bad attack, Kerry's favorability was 48%.
Today, as Kerry eases into his second year trying to explain Barack Obama to a puzzled world, a majority of Americans, 55%, see the Massachusetts yacht owner favorably, with 34% unfavorable.
Which sounds pretty good until you realize that his two immediate predecessors, Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton, both owned 61% favorable ratings at this same point in their tenures.
Their predecessor, Madeline Albright, the first female secretary of State, had 62% favorables, while the all-time highest favorable secretary of State this century was Colin Powell's 82% in spring 2002. But that was before he lied to the United Nations about Iraq and endorsed Obama.
First ladies are almost always seen more favorably than their politico hubbies. And this holds true for Michelle Obama. Today, she is seen favorably by 66% of Americans, according to Gallup, and that number has been fairly steady for four years.
That 66% is up slightly from her White House nadir of 61% in late 2009, but well down from her personal best of 72% right after moving her mother into the White House in January 2009.
Before winning the election, her favorable was only 42% and unfavorable 30%. That was about the time Mrs. Obama announced she had never been proud of this country until her husband gained political prominence and success.
Mrs. Obama's favorable rating is consistently higher than Mrs. Clinton's as first lady, 66% and 25% unfavorable, to Clinton's 56% favorable and 37% unfavorable. Clinton paid a popularity price for her HillaryCare early in Bill Clinton's first term, although she gained sympathy after her husband's affair with Monica Lewinsky and impeachment.
Not surprisingly perhaps, 92% of Democrats think favorably of Mrs. Obama, four percent more than think that way of her husband.
Interestingly, Michelle is significantly more popular than Barack in every breakdown--61% to 47% among independents, 43% to 18% among Republicans, 59% to 48% among men and 73% to 57% among women.
So, obviously, Michelle Obama, who just turned 50, will do better as the 2016 Democrat nominee than Hillary Clinton, who will be 69 just before the 2016 election. Just kidding. (About Michelle running, not Hillary's age.)
Speaking of dynasties, the two most popular first ladies of recent presidencies were both Bushes.
The all-time most popular first lady in the past generation is Barbara Bush, the outspoken Texas matron who earned a 77% approval to only 10% unfavorable.
She was followed closely by her daughter-in-law, Laura Bush, another Texan, who had a 73% favorable and 12% unfavorable rating.
Neither woman is expected to run in 2016.