Melania Trump experiences jump in popularity

First Lady Melania Trump is pictured during a meeting with Polish President's wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda (Unseen) at the Belvedere Palace in Warsaw on July 6, 2017. (PHOTO: ANDRZEJ HULIMKA/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — First lady Melania Trump has in recent weeks experienced a significant surge in support, a new CNN poll reveals, including among women and Democrats.

In a poll conducted by SSRS last week, 57 percent say they have a favorable impression of Trump, up from 47% in January. This is the biggest number Melania Trump has experienced in any CNN polling, and higher than any favorability rating earned by President Donald Trump in CNN polling history going back to 1999.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents have an unfavorable view of the first lady.

Notably, Trump has seen an increase in favorable feelings from Democrats, up 15 points since the January poll. She is up six points from Republicans. However, overall, Democrats still tilt negative for her, 38% favorable to 40% unfavorable.

The gender gap in impressions of the first lady has also narrowed, Trump’s numbers are up 7 percentage points among men, but have risen 13 percentage points among women. A majority of women, 54%, now have a positive view of Trump, 30% view her unfavorably.

The jump in positive feelings about Trump could likely be due to the sympathy factor. For the past several months, the President has been the focus of numerous salacious stories regarding alleged infidelities in the couple’s marriage. Melania Trump has remained quiet, yet she has expressed examples of independence during this time.

In addition to canceling a trip to accompany her husband abroad in January, she broke with tradition by riding solo in a separate motorcade to the President’s State of the Union address on Capitol Hill. In February, on the day a story revealed an alleged 2006 tryst by the President with a Playboy model, the first lady again traveled separately to Andrews Air Force Base, rather than walk across the South Lawn with her husband to board Marine One. On these occasions, her spokeswoman told CNN, it was logistics and scheduling that prevented her from joining the President. The White House says he has denied each alleged affair.

As first lady, Hillary Clinton saw her poll numbers get a slight bump in the wake of Bill Clinton’s scandal involving White House intern Monica Lewinsky. While both Clintons in 1998 enjoyed favorable ratings in the low sixties, after details of the affair emerged and impeachment proceedings began, Hillary Clinton’s level rose to 66% at one point, while Bill Clinton’s dropped to 51%.

Trump’s new favorable numbers are still lagging behind her most recent predecessors at around the same time in their tenures. A September 2010 CNN poll had Michelle Obama at 62% favorable to 25% unfavorable. For Laura Bush, a CNN/Time poll from May 2002 rated 67% favorable, 8% unfavorable, with 25% unsure.

Trump’s previous high mark happened over a year ago in March, when 52% viewed her favorably and 32% viewed her unfavorably.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS May 2-5 among a random national sample of 1,015 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.