A year and a half in, first lady Jill Biden’s favorability is mixed

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CNN
 — 

First lady Jill Biden’s favorability rating is narrowly positive, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. Thirty-four percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of her, 29% an unfavorable opinion and 37% are unsure.

Her husband, President Joe Biden, has a favorability rating of 36%, but his unfavorable rating is much higher at 54%.

Those with a positive opinion of Jill Biden fall primarily down party lines – 67% of Democrats hold her in favorable esteem, while just 5% held an unfavorable opinion. The first lady also did well with Black Americans (47% favorable) and women (39% favorable).

Biden’s unfavorable rating is largely unchanged since the last CNN poll that asked about the then-incoming first lady, in January 2021. At that time, she stood at 28% unfavorable.

Traditionally, first ladies are uniformly admired, and Americans tend to have a higher opinion of them than they do of the president. The position is unelected and normally uncontroversial. Yet Biden’s numbers are indicative of the trend America is reflecting in their views on the President. At a Saturday fundraiser in Massachusetts for the Democratic National Committee, the first lady lamented the hindered success of her husband’s administration.

“[The President] had so many hopes and plans for things he wanted to do, but every time you turned around, he had to address the problems of the moment,” she said.

In comparison to her most recent predecessors, Biden’s numbers are far less positive, per past CNN polls. In 2002, around the same time in her tenure, then-first lady Laura Bush saw her favorable rating at 67%. And in 2010, Michelle Obama, also about this far into her time as first lady, stood at 62% favorable, and 25% unfavorable.

Melania Trump’s poll numbers swung during her four years in the White House. In June 2018, 51% of Americans had a favorable opinion of Trump, 29% unfavorable. Trump left the White House with the lowest likability numbers for any first lady at the end of her term in polling history: A January 2021 ranking found her at 42% favorable and 47% unfavorable.

At least some of the difference between views of Jill Biden and those of her predecessors lies in the larger share saying they have no opinion about Biden. That is likely less about a large shift in views of Biden and more about the difference between surveys conducted online, such as the new CNN poll, where a no opinion response is offered to respondents, and those conducted on the phone, where a no opinion response would typically need to be volunteered.

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