Melania Trump is officially the least popular first lady ever. Despite her years-long "Be Best" campaign and renovations to the Rose Garden, the former first lady exited the White House on Jan. 20 with a 47% unfavorable rating, according to CNN/SSRS poll, marking the lowest unfavorable rating of a first lady in polling history.
Published on Jan. 17, just two days before President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' inauguration, the poll found that 47% of respondents held an unfavorable view of Trump, her highest unfavorable rating at any point since CNN first asked about views of her in February 2016. Her favorable rating, meanwhile, sat at just 42%, though she enjoyed a high favorable rating among Republicans, with 84% having a positive view of her as she prepared to depart the White House. An additional 12% of respondents said they were unsure of their feelings about the first lady.
For comparison, Michelle Obama departed the White House with a 69% favorable rating, Laura Bush at a 67% favorable rating, and Hillary Clinton at a 56% favorable rating. Trump’s highest favorable rating came in May 2018, when it sat at 57%. That rating "came on the heels of the first state dinner and Trump's attendance at the Texas funeral of the late first lady Barbara Bush. Trump went to the funeral without President Donald Trump," CNN notes. Her favorable rating had shortly plummeted, though, dipping to 43% by December of that year. At that same time, her unfavorable rating sat at 36%.
Despite her low unfavorable rating, Trump is still more favorable than her husband, former President Donald Trump. CNN's pre-Inauguration Day report noted that the former president's favorability rating was notably higher than her husband's, which sat at 33%. More recent polling has found that even the former president's highest approval rating of 52% is lower than current President Biden's approval rating following his first week in office. One poll found Biden’s approval rating at 63%, with a second putting it at 56%.
As her husband focuses on his upcoming Senate impeachment trial, since leaving the White House on Jan. 20, the former first lady has begun making plans for the future. Just days after exiting the White House, a separate CNN report said Trump is establishing a post-White House office in Palm Beach, Florida with plans to "maintain 'Be Best.'" Her post-White House office will include her White House staff members: Hayley D'Antuono, who previously served as her director of operations and trip supervisor; Mary Finzer, who previously managed Trump's "gift closet;" and Marcia Kelly, a former unpaid senior adviser in the White House.