Ask any American the question, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way so and so is handling his/her job as (fill in the blank)?” and you’re bound to get an answer filtered through partisanship, religious affiliation, ethnic background, or just the general mood of the nation at the particular time the question is being asked. Given that, polls that ask such qualifying questions are usually unpredictable, as it’s always hard to know which mood, which issue, which party’s talking points are going to tip the scales one way or the other in terms of approval or disapproval.
Which is why the latest CNN/ORC Poll conducted December 17-18, 2012, during a particularly testy time of fiscal cliffs, debt ceilings, an unpopular Congress, and the fears of tax hikes and service cuts, has proven once again that a certain First Lady remains one of the most popular figures in American.
The highest scorer? First Lady Michelle Obama, with an approval rating of 73%.
The poll, sponsored by CNN in collaboration with ORC International, one of the largest global market research companies in the country, focused on a small but mighty selection of subjects:
- Barack Obama: 52% approval
- Hillary Clinton: 66% approval
- Joe Biden: 54% approval
- Timothy Geithner: 36% approval
The questions were of the standard “approve or disapprove” nature, with the demographics of the participants broken down in categories of income range, race, party affiliation, educational background, and section of the country (north, south, east; west….). According to the poll:
A total of 620 adults were interviewed by telephone nationwide by live interviewers calling both landline and cell phones. All respondents were asked questions concerning basic demographics, and the entire sample was weighted to reflect national Census figures for gender, race, age, education, region of country, telephone usage and whether respondents own or rent their homes. Among the entire sample, 34% described themselves as Democrats, 41% described themselves as Independents, and 25% described themselves as Republicans.
Since all the poll subjects are Democrats, the political affiliation of the respondents had less impact than it might have had the list been politically mixed. What the results do reveal is that Michelle Obama distinguishes herself as one of the most popular women in the country, even across political lines, even at a time when many politicians are viewed dimly; the husbands or wives of whom can be equally tarred by the unsettled mood of many in the country. President Obama’s score is relatively high under those circumstances as well, but it’s Michelle Obama who seems to have transcended party and politics, helped along by the positive views most have of the causes she trumpets, from childhood obesity, unemployment for returning vets (the “Joining Forces” program), reading, and the general empowerment of young girls.
The poll is also interesting in that the second highest scorer is Hillary Clinton, another high-profile female in the political arena. Though she is stepping down from her cabinet position as Secretary of State, enthusiasm – and hope – is high that she’ll take a serious look at running for the presidency in 2016.
The lowest score belongs to departing Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, whose controversial run in the position has been impacted by everything from the credit and housing downturn, the Wall Street meltdown, the auto bailout, right up to the current debacle with the looming “fiscal cliff.”
And one can’t help but note that good old Joe Biden is a full two points ahead of his boss…
[To see all the poll results, click here.]