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Poll: Positive Feelings For Michelle Obama

A new CBS News/New York Times poll out Sunday finds that Americans feel largely positive towards incoming first lady Michelle Obama – more positive, in fact, than they have about past incoming first ladies.

Forty-six percent of those surveyed say they have a favorable opinion of Michelle Obama, while just seven percent say their opinion is not favorable. An additional 45 percent are undecided or do not have an opinion.

Compare that with first ladies past: Laura Bush had a 30 percent favorable rating when she entered the White House, while Hillary Clinton's favorable rating stood at 38 percent. Barbara Bush's favorable rating at the start of her husband's term was 34 percent, and Nancy Reagan's was 28 percent.

Americans feel they know more about Michelle Obama than her predecessors. In the past, more than half of those surveyed were undecided or didn't know enough about the incoming first lady to offer an opinion about her. Sixty-six percent, for example, declined to offer an opinion of Laura Bush at the start of her husband's term. That's more than 20 percentage points higher than the percentage that did not offer an opinion of Michelle Obama.

Women are more likely than men to have a favorable opinion of the incoming first lady: 52 percent view her favorably, compared with 40 percent of men. Men were more likely to say they are undecided or do not know enough to form an opinion.

You can check out recent CBS News polling here. Surveys out yesterday found widespread optimism about Barack Obama and pessimism about the economy, while a Friday poll found that President Bush is leaving office with the lowest approval rating since the question was first asked 70 years ago.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,112 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone January 11-15, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

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