WASHINGTON, D.C. -- First lady Michelle Obama's favorability rating among Americans tops that of several major political players who have called or might someday seek to call the White House home -- including her husband and his two predecessors, former first lady Hillary Clinton, three vice presidents, and a number of potential Republican presidential hopefuls.
The above are the complete results from a Gallup poll conducted July 8-11, 2010, assessing the favorability of several key public figures; segments of that poll have already been reported on Gallup.com.
While Obama does best overall in the current poll, her 66% favorable rating is not remarkable for a current first lady, who is generally subject to less news coverage and controversy than active politicians. First lady Obama's favorable rating is up slightly from last October but down from a peak of 72% in March 2009, just after her husband took office. Mrs. Obama embarked on her high-profile campaign to reduce childhood obesity in America in February 2009.
The current first lady's favorable rating has yet to match those enjoyed by her predecessor Laura Bush, who left the White House in 2009 with a 76% favorable rating, down marginally from her high of 80% in 2005.
Former first lady Clinton is also not far behind Obama, as she is enjoying some of her best ratings yet during the 17 years in which she has been first lady, U.S. senator from New York, presidential candidate, and now secretary of state. Clinton received her highest favorable ratings in 1998 and early 1999, as her husband was undergoing impeachment. Her current 61% rating is down slightly from 65% in January 2009, but well above the numbers seen in much of the past decade.
Despite their many differences, in terms of time as a public figure and roles held, Obama and Clinton are currently quite similarly liked by most demographic segments of the population. Obama in most cases holds a slight edge similar to that seen in the national average. Republicans give Obama a nine-point edge over Clinton (37% to 28%), while her ratings among independents (67% to 61%) and Democrats (91% to 88%) are closely matched.
Clinton's work as a politician in her own right makes her image more vulnerable than that of Obama, whose public career to date remains more tethered to her role as first lady. That said, Americans have 14 times named Clinton as their "Most Admired Woman," including in 2009, when she easily won more mentions than Obama.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-11, 2010, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
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