Poll: It's OK for a First Lady to have an outside job but not a government salary

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A timely new C-SPAN poll reveals that 65 percent of American voters say it’s acceptable for a First Lady to hold an outside job while her husband is President. However, just 40 percent say a First Lady should receive a government salary. Less than a quarter of the respondents said that the opinion of a First Lady had “major impact” on her husband, incidentally.

But what about a, well, pushy First Lady? Should she use her high profile platform to advocate for important political and policy issues? That can be a tricky business if the public gets the impression that a First Lady is meddlesome or inappropriate rather than helpful.

Voters are split on the issue: 53 percent agree that First Lady advocacy is acceptable, 47 percent do not. There’s a gender gap, of course. Six out of 10 women say the advocacy is fine, while 56 percent of men disagree.

As far as her influence on the President, 23 percent said that a First Lady’s opinion was a “major” influence; 40 percent said it was “minor” while 36 percent said the First lady had no impact at all.

The C-SPAN poll of 1,049 likely U.S. voters was conducted Feb. 13-14.

The poll enhances the public interest channel’s new series “First Ladies: Influence and Image.” which dwells on the ladies who served in that role over 44 administrations. The 90-minute programs will air live Mondays at 9pm ET on C-SPAN and C-SPAN 3, C-SPAN Radio, and via livestreaming on c-span.org.

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