Donald Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, is the most disliked spouse of a Presidential candidate in 20 years. Not since Hillary Clinton stood beside her husband President Bill Clinton back in 1996 as he ran for reelection has a candidate’s wife been so loathed.
According to a new poll released by the Washington Post and ABC News, Mrs. Trump has an overall favorability rating of just 37 percent.
And that includes both the strongly favorable and somewhat favorable added together. In fact, the poll asked respondents to rate the spouses of the two candidates and their respective running mates. Out of the four, Melania Trump was the only one whose positive rating barely outnumbered her negative, and by only one percentage point at that. Melania was also the only one whose total positive responses did not even break the 40 percent mark.
This puts Melania Trump ahead of her husband. However, according to the most recent major polls, most put Donald Trump’s favorability behind Melania’s with only one, Reuters, showing him break the 40 percent mark.
So why is she so disliked? It could be because of all those nude photos of Mrs. Trump that recently surfaced. It may also be related to the accusations leveled against her that imply she worked in New York as a model 20 years ago, even though she did not have a work visa at the time. This revelation has also hurt Donald Trump, since fighting illegal immigration is such an important part of his campaign. And it is possible that some people do not like the idea of any immigrant becoming their First Lady.
The Washington Post also points out that the favorability of a candidate’s spouse can be affected by their own ratings, and currently Donald Trump has very low favorability in the eyes of the American public. In fact, Hillary Clinton is the only wife of a Presidential candidate to appear in the bottom part of the list in net favorability, or who came in at under 20 percent, whose husband actually went on to win the election. And this happened twice, in both 1992 and 1996.
The one bright spot for Mrs. Trump is that she still has an overall positive rating when her negative responses are deducted from her positives, The Washington Post/ABC News poll shows. This leaves her way ahead of where Hillary Clinton stood in 1996. That year, Mrs. Clinton had a negative total rating of almost ten percent. That was after the whole Whitewater scandal had begun, and Mrs. Clinton was harshly criticized during Bill Clinton’s first term for taking too active a role in his Presidency.
And while Melania is polling behind Hillary Clinton in favorability from when the Presidential candidate’s husband first ran for President in 1992, she is ahead of where Clinton was in early 1996.
But that poll was taken in January, 1996. Come September of that year, after the Democratic convention was held in Chicago, Hillary Clinton rebounded to a five percent total positive rating. And in more bad news for Melania Trump, she only polls second to last among all 16 of the potential First Ladies (or Gentlemen) since the elections in 1988. And when you discount the poll from January of 1996, Melania Trump actually comes in dead last.
Also coming in at the bottom of the overall list are Theresa Heinz-Kerry in 2004 and Mitt Romney’s wife in 2012. Both of their husbands lost their respective election bids.
The woman who polled the highest by far was former First Lady Barbara Bush, wife of George H. W. Bush. She received a net positive of almost 60 percent in 1992. However, the first President Bush still lost his bid for re-election that year, garnering only 38 percent of the vote.
As for Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, he received a total 43 percent positive rating against a total negative rating of 26 percent. This puts Pence way ahead of the man at the top of the Republican Party’s ticket this year.
Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, received the same positive response against only a 24 percent negative one.
Bill Clinton, the man who hopes to return to the White House as the first ever former President to become the spouse of a President, has a 54 percent approval rating against only 42 percent negative. He is also polling above his wife, Hillary.
Meanwhile, the woman who hopes to become the first former First Lady to become President, and the first woman President too, is leading Donald Trump nationally by 8 points, 40 to 32, according to the same poll.
Some Trump supporters, however, might dismiss these polls because of the feud currently raging between The Washington Post and Mr. Trump himself. Trump has banned The Washington Post’s reporters from his campaign’s press pool. They would also certainly point out that people vote for the candidate and not his wife.
So what will Melania do to address her negative rating?
CNN is reporting that the candidate himself has promised that his wife, Melania, will address the scandal surrounding her immigration status back in the 1990s within the next few weeks. Donald Trump promised that she will hold a news conference about it.
Will Melania Trump be able to make a comeback in the eyes of the American public? It will depend on how she presents herself over the next 90 days and how the Trump campaign handles her upcoming public events.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]