July 2nd, 2008
10:30 AM ET
6 years ago

Poll shows Americans cool to Michelle Obama

 Michelle Obama is viewed unfavorably by 35 percent in a new poll.
Michelle Obama is viewed unfavorably by 35 percent in a new poll.

(CNN) – She's been at times a lightning rod for criticism from some Republicans over the course of the presidential campaign, and a new poll out Wednesday suggests more Americans hold a negative view toward Michelle Obama than a positive one.

The new Associated Press-Yahoo poll shows 30 percent of Americans view the outspoken wife of Barack Obama favorably while 35 percent view her unfavorably. That compares to the 27 percent of Americans who view John McCain's wife, Cindy, favorably and the 17 percent who hold an unfavorable view of her. Mrs. McCain is clearly less known than Mrs. Obama - 56 percent said they don't know enough about the Arizona senator's wife to render an opinion while only 34 percent said the same for Mrs. Obama.

Watch: Cindy McCain discusses Obama

White Americans appear particularly suspect of Mrs. Obama. The poll shows those voters hold an unfavorable view of her by nearly 20 points while about 80 percent of black voters reported positive feelings about Mrs. Obama.

Those numbers are reversed for Cindy McCain: whites view her favorably by a margin of 17 points while only 10 percent of blacks like her.

In a similar trend line her husband faced during the primary season, Mrs. Obama's favorability ratings are higher among unmarried people and college graduates while her ratings are particularly low among senior voters.

Mrs. Obama also appears to drum up stronger opinions among voters than does Mrs. McCain. About 20 percent of voters said they hold a very negative view of her while 10 percent said the same for Mrs. McCain.

Republicans have targeted Mrs. Obama over several comments she has made over the course of the primary campaign, especially when she said earlier this year that she is really proud" of her country for the first time in her adult life.

The Obama campaign has made a concerted effort of late to soften Mrs. Obama's image, retooling her stump speech to include more details about her family and her humble origins on Chicago's South Side.

Watch: Michelle Obama's new image

The poll, conducted on June 13-23, surveyed 1,759 adults and carried an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage ponts.

soundoff (370 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    SHE IS A NATIONAL DISGRACE!! SHE IS ANTI-AMERICAN, BITTER, SLY AND COMPLETLY UNTRUSTWORTHY. SHE WANTS TO BE THE PRESIDENT MORE THAN HER HUSBAND. IN MANY OTHER COUTRIES, REMARKS FROM A PERSON SUCH AS HERSELF, WIFE OF A PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL, WOULD BE SEEN AS TREASONOUS AND DELT WITH IN A MUCH DIFFERENT MANNOR. SHE WILL NOW SAY, ACT AND DO ANYTHING TO GET HER HUSBAND INTO THE WHITE HOUSE. OUR ENENMIES MUST LOVE THE POLITICAL WEAKNESS IN THIS COUNTRY RUN BY THE LIBERAL MEDIA RIGHT NOW.

    July 2, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Bryan

    What is it with "outspoken" first lady candidates (for democrats, of course; apparently neocon women know their place)? Hillary got this in the 90s, Terry Heinz in 2004, now Michelle has to deal with this crap? I honestly can't think of a single comment she has made, never mind one that is inflammatory.

    If she was calling for widespread abuse & neglect of children off mike, I'd see the point. Otherwise I suspect the media conspiracy to constantly portray the GOP as underdogs & the Donkeys as "uppity" is once again coming into focus. Who has the guts to stand up to these perception bullies?

    July 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. WHERE ARE THE WOMEN WHO BACK WOMEN?

    I could be wrong... I thought it was Barack who is running for president!!! Who cares about Michelle's poll? Why even talk about her poll?

    As far as women backing women... I guess that is over!

    It could just be me... it looks like hard working women only back white women!

    July 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. Diane

    That's because we will have to get to know her. The country will warm up to her once she becomes our first lady.

    Obama 08

    July 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. Shelva J. Davis

    Michelle Obama is very well educated, articulate and has a right to and does speak out on certain issues. She is not a little mousy woman who does not seem to have a brain or anything to say. Back off on Michelle, she is a good role model for our daughters. They need to be strong, outspoken and not continue to be a little mouse who stands behind her husband as so many women have done in the past. Its time for change.

    July 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. tracy

    she would be a great first lady, she is amazing!!!

    July 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. webster208

    This is to be expected. Surprisingly, the Obamas want a free ride for Michelle. They want her to be able to campaign and give speeches for her husband, but when she gets criticized, the entire Obama campaign sings a familiar chorus: Lay off her. Barrack is the candidate". Well, if they do not want her to be criticized, they should make her disappear., or they should ask her to be quiet. Speaking in public has its consequences, and if she is not strong enough to take the heat, she should indeed be quiet.

    July 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Lawrence

    I too don't think negatively about Mrs. Obama, but I do fear that if she continues to be as outspoken as she has been on the campaign trail she will inevitably be a polarizing figure. This says far more about the social standards in American culture than about the individuals involved.

    Look at what happened to Hillary Clinton. God for bid a strong, intellectual, and outspoken woman of any color speak their mind. The disrespect to Senator Clinton was abominable and people who wore shirts saying "Iron my T-shirt" out to be ashamed of themselves.

    I honestly think that it is unfortunate that sexism is far more socially acceptable than racism, when in fact they should be treated as equally unacceptable. When people make a sexist joke it sometimes even goes ignored, yet when people make even the slightest inference to someone's race everyone is all up and arms pulling the race card and deeming it an injustice.

    How is it that talented and capable women like Michelle and Hillary elicit such strong negative feelings amongst a significant percentage of the electorate?

    Do all women who are powerful individuals in their own rights deserve such scrutiny? If Michelle Obama were a man and retained her level of honesty and forwardness, none of this would even be an issue.

    July 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. Cecelia

    We know Michelle, she's a Harvard graduate who worked hard at her job and raising her family.

    Obama 08

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. Jack

    obama & his wife are FRAUDS!!!

    obama lacks the JUDGMENT to lead our country – he CHANGES his message daily for his political gain.

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. julius

    WOW – this is beautiful! THEY are the American Dream! Go TEAM Obama!

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. Paul

    When did the Presidnets wife ever mean anything in an election? The first lady is historically responsible for the.....WHITE HOUSE SOCIAL EVENTS!!!
    Are you kidding me?

    Dear Cnn and other media outlets,
    Can we, the American people, please be provided with news that is worth something? Issues of substances in an election? I hope that isn't too much to ask of you?

    Love,
    Paul

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Chiswald

    Michelle Obama worked hard, beat the odds and rose from a modest background to become a Harvard educated lawyer. The American Dream. Cindy McCain was born rich, inherited millions, and married a much older conservative politician. The Republican Dream.

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. Erwin

    Politicians more often than not get (or lose) votes for superficial reasons – race, their spouse's personality, their family background, their slick campaign ads, etc. All of these votes count just as much as any other, despite the questionable reasoning behind them. THAT is why America's impression of Michelle Obama is newsworthy.

    What should matter is policy and experience, and hopefully to some voters it does. But as both major parties have learned, those votes are harder to get and are smaller in number. So they pander to their superficial power bases.

    This can't be changed overnight. Everyone has to start making decisions based on the boring details of who has a better plan and better qualifications. Eventually, these issues may decide a campaign (though not this one).

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. Chuck

    Michelle has a problem with race. Americans can see it, and they dont like it.
    I would never let my kids sit in a church their whole life and listen to the crap their church is saying.
    You Obama fans are seeing what happens when Obama's people go around calling everyone else a racist.

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. MARIA GUPTA-LEE, San Diego, California

    WHY SHOULD MICHELLE OBAMA HAVE HIGHER UNFAVOURABLE RATINGS FOR SAYING SHE LOVED AMERICA MORE NOW THAN BEFORE, THAN JOHN McCAIN WHO SAID HE NEVER EVEN LOVED AMERICA BEFORE HE WAS CAPTURED IN VIETNAM ?

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. CAPTAIN CAPSLOCK

    To those who says you don't like here, don't trust her... DO YOU EVEN KNOW HER?? No?? Oh, ok, then we can take your single-minded, ignorant opinion and toss it in the garbage along with your bitter ridiculous attitudes.

    Obama and Clinton share almost identical values on almost every issue. Democratic values. If you don't like them, vote for McCain, but stop coming to CNN and making ridiculous, ill-informed (read: ignorant) comments.

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Rain in Santa Cruz

    Really?!?

    Is this what it's come to, CNN?

    If you are speaking to the concerns of Americans, then I'm sorely disappointed in you and us.

    This isn't news or important...

    July 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. jim

    this poll does not speak for this white man. i am more leary of the rich spoilt brat mccain who keeps hiding her wealth. she looks like a crook if you put yourself in the public eye then be ready to be exposed. and i am a white republician also. go Obama 08

    July 2, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. LBF522

    I like Michelle. She will make a very good First Lady.

    July 2, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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