Ann Romney, Michelle Obama are more popular than their husbands

Published: Wednesday, April 25 2012 2:44 p.m. MDT

In this May 7, 2010 file photo, first lady Michelle Obama delivers the keynote speech to the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum 16th Annual National Issues Conference in Washington.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File, Associated Press

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A new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday found that both Ann Romney and Michelle Obama net higher favorability ratings from national polling than their politician husbands.

The specific favorability numbers show that Ann Romney bests Mitt, 40-35, while Michelle Obama leads Barack by a 69-56 margin.

Looking at the points in their husbands' presidencies when they sought re-election, Michelle Obama's current favorability numbers are better than Hillary Clinton's in 1996, comparable to Laura Bush's in 2004, but below the gold standard of first-lady favorability — Barbara Bush circa 1992.

The Post detailed why Ann Romney's "achievement" is more historically significant than Michelle Obama's.

"While first ladies are often more popular than their husbands, it’s relatively atypical for a challenger’s wife to be better liked than the candidate himself — as Ann Romney is now. All potential first ladies are less widely known, but only Kitty Dukakis and Barbara Bush in 1988 and Tipper Gore in 2000 had favorable numbers comparable to their husbands, when first measured."

An Associated Press article published Friday explored the potential political power of Ann Romney.

"Already, she is becoming a fundraising powerhouse and chief aggressor in her husband's push to court women. President Barack Obama's team quietly acknowledges the threat it faces from the Romney who is sweet, unassuming and, at times, unusually willing to share bathroom humor. To be sure, people who know her well have long viewed her as a political force."

The University of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog recently declared that the sheer volume of Ann Romney's media coverage has now surpassed Michelle Obama's.