A new poll conducted and released this week by CNN shows that Melania Trump is the most popular of the family with a favorability rating of 44 percent. While President Donald Trump saw a boost in his ratings (now up to 41 percent), his wife still takes the cake. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner came in with 41 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
This latest data represents a huge boost for the first lady, whose favorability ratings as of July 2016 were just 28 percent according to Gallup Polls, an unusually low number for a prospective first lady. The favorable percentage in the CNN poll also outflanks the unfavorable, which is not the case with her husband or his son-in-law. The president, while enjoying a high after his handling with naturals disasters, is still burdened with a 57 percent unfavorable rating.
The fact that Melania is more popular than her husband isn't an uncommon occurrence. Many first ladies have enjoyed higher favorability ratings than their spouses, Gallup Polls data show. But Trump's favorability rating, while high relative to her own family, is fairly low overall. People have been quick to put Trump in the context of her peers and not her kin, and that paints an entirely different picture.
Looking at the previous White House family, Michelle Obama was ahead of Barack in approval ratings during most of his tenure, according to the Washington Post. Gallup Polls of favorability ratings for the last five first ladies put Obama squarely in the middle, with an average of 65 percent. She entered in January 2009 with 68 percent and never dropped below 58 percent during the two terms in office, leaving the White House ahead of Hillary Clinton.
It's unclear whether recent criticisms about Mrs. Trump played any role in the ratings boost. The interviews were conducted between September 17 and 20, so it's unlikely that Trump's anti-bullying speech at the U.N. this past Wednesday -- which earned her considerable backlash -- had much influence over the numbers. But criticism of her choice of footwear when she went to visit the site of Hurricane Harvey devastation earlier this month prompted even Vogue to say high heels weren't appropriate.
As CNN explains of its poll, people appear to be separating how they view the president and first lady. Not everyone who disapproves of the former feels the same way about the latter, and vice versa. There was also a big difference when it came to gender: Women respondents were less likely to rank her favorably and more likely to rank her unfavorably than men. In fact, for both of the Trump women, this was the case.
Mrs. Trump also appears to be gaining steam as people get to know her. While 4 percent of respondents -- one in 25 people -- had still never heard of the first lady, that number is way down from previous polls. As of February, one in four people didn't know who she was -- and among those who did, just 24 percent ranked her favorably versus 34 percent who ranked her unfavorably. CNN explains this difference and suggests that as Trump becomes more and more known on the national stage, people are generally responding well to her. Often, the opposite happens for politicians.
Aside from gender, the first lady enjoyed the highest approval rating by category among respondents who were white, earn more than $50,000 annually, and were 65 or older. Respondents stuck pretty closely along party lines in whether or not they supported her; the poll was an even split of Democrat, Republican and Independent or members of another party.
What this means for the first lady moving forward has yet to be seen. It's certainly a boost to her overall image -- and that can probably only help her husband's. But I'm still curious where the boost came from. Was it her responses to the natural disasters, her elegant presence on foreign trips, or something else? Whether people genuinely like her or not is difficult to say, but the point is this: The country is continuing to warm up to the first lady -- though not nearly as much as they have to her predecessors.
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