GOP candidates' wives are less disliked than their husbands

Why this should come as a surprise to anyone, I’m sure I don’t know. It’s far easier to be likable as a supportive spouse than as a candidate who’s bound to say some things with which voters disagree. Still, it must be a bit of a boost to these women in the midst of such a long, hard primary slog to learn that Americans don’t dislike them quite so much as they dislike their husbands.

Ann Romney, who has moved crowds with stories of how husband Mitt Romney has supported her in her struggles with multiple sclerosis, … is viewed favorably by 31%, and unfavorably by 22%–the former Massachusetts governor’s rating is 33/58.

Karen Santorum, mother of seven, holds a 31/27 rating. Her spouse, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, has a higher, 36% favorability rating, but a whopping 58% of voters gave him a thumbs-down.

Newt Gingrich’s third wife, Callista, is the most unpopular of the Republican first lady wannabes: only 18% of those surveyed saw her favorably, while 44% said the opposite. Her husband topped her favorability rating with a 28%, but 61% of those surveyed viewed him unfavorably—the highest disapproval rating of the lot.

The article made no mention of Ron Paul’s wife. For that matter, neither did the poll. Her name is Carol, in case you wondered, and she raised Rand, so she must be pretty OK.

As I read the ratings of these wives, though, it strikes me that Americans are one tough bunch to please. What politician or politician’s wife has a higher favorability rating than unfavorability rating? Actually, I have the answer: It’s Michelle Obama, who sits at a 54 percent favorable rating and a 34 percent unfavorable rating.

Part of that might just come with the territory of being First Lady: Laura Bush was always enormously popular, too. Either way, it’s impressive that Mrs. O has managed to hold on in a day and age when everyone is more interested in and apt to discuss what a person does wrong rather than what a person does right. Even more impressive when you consider that she has occasionally engaged in direct put-downs of the American people. (“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country … “)

Not to grow too sappy, but I’m grateful to the GOP women for bearing with all the media scrutiny without ever lashing out or bashing Americans for not seeing just how wonderful their husbands are. They deserve even more credit than they receive.

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David Strom 6:01 AM on June 06, 2023