The XX Factor

Did Michelle Obama’s Spain Trip Hurt Her Favorability Ratings?

Politico ‘s Ben Smith notes that Michelle Obama’s favorability rating has gone down substantially since last year, according to a NBC/WSJ poll: “Her favorable/unfavorable number has gone from 63 percent/8 percent at its peak last February to 50 percent/19 percent today.” The commenters are already claiming that the drop in Michelle’s numbers are due to the bad press surrounding her expensive vacation to Spain in the past week -they’re calling her a diva, and the Marie Antoinette comparisions abound.

Certainly Michelle’s numbers have dropped since the inauguration. But if you look at the breakdown more closely, her numbers are almost exactly what they were in January (keep in mind the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent). In January, 2010, 35 percent of respondents viewed Michelle in a very positive way. In August, that figure is 33 percent. In January, 7 percent of respondents viewed Michelle in a very negative way. In August, 10 percent do. These changes are negligible-they’re within the margin of error-and I would venture have far more to do with the fact that Michelle’s husband is at a favorability trough than they do with Michelle’s all-girl vacation.

Photograph of Michelle Obama by Cristina Quicler/AFP.