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Poll: First Lady, Ann Romney More Popular Than Their Husbands

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Michelle Obama and Ann Romney outscore their husbands in personal popularity in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, while Hillary Clinton, for her part, has hit a new high in favorability data stretching back to her entry on the national stage 20 years ago.

Clinton and Obama both are far better known than Romney, helping boost them to much higher popularity ratings overall.  All three are rated unfavorably by roughly similar numbers: 24 percent for Obama, 27 percent for Clinton and 30 percent for Romney.

All told, Obama is seen favorably by 69 percent of the public and unfavorably by 24 percent -- not her best rating (76-16 percent in March 2009) but a broadly positive one.  Her favorability rating is 13 points higher than her husband’s; her unfavorable score, 16 points lower.

Romney’s rating is 40-30 percent favorable-unfavorable in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.  While much less positive than Obama’s, some of that has to do with Romney’s shorter time in the spotlight: 30 percent are undecided about her, compared with 7 percent undecided about Obama.

Romney, in any case, does better than her husband’s 35-47 percent rating last week.  She’s a scant 5 points higher than Mitt Romney in favorability, but a broader 17 points lower in unfavorable ratings.  As noted last week, Mitt Romney’s basic popularity ratings are the weakest for any presumptive presidential nominee in ABC/Post polls during primary seasons since 1984.

Clinton’s ratings are much like Obama’s -- 65-27 percent favorable-unfavorable, a numerical high for Clinton by a single point.  That reflects a turnaround from the 2008 presidential campaign, in which she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.  At this time four years ago, she was seen unfavorably by 54 percent of Americans, favorably by 44 percent.

Clinton likely is boosted by her current position: As secretary of state, she’s prominent as a representative of U.S. interests and concerns overseas, without engaging in the controversial to-and-fro of domestic politics.  Note too that her husband, also largely outside the fray of domestic politics these days, had an equally positive 67-29 percent favorable-unfavorable rating in a Pew poll last month, much like his wife’s, and also like Michelle Obama’s, today.

There are differences in intensity of sentiment.  Michelle Obama is viewed strongly favorably by 38 percent of Americans, strongly unfavorably by 12 percent.  Hillary Clinton’s ratings are 33 percent strongly positive vs. 13 percent strongly negative.  Intensity of views on Ann Romney are evenly divided: 11 percent strongly favorable, 13 percent strongly unfavorable.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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