It’s the Trump family's last day in the White House — a day that many worried would never arrive. And over the course of four years we’ve come to know the real Melania (and the fake Melania) better than we ever would have wanted to. To recap some of her greatest hits: there was the “I don’t really care, do you?” jacket debacle, the Melania doppelganger conspiracies, and, of course, who could ever forget what she did to that poor rose garden? Not to mention that it took her nearly a week to denounce the insurrection, which she missed because she was having her rugs photographed in the White House. Yes, really.
With all of these things and more in mind, Melania is leaving the White House with the worst popularity rating of any first lady at the end of her term in polling history. That means she's ending this term with just about as much favourability as her husband. “The latest CNN/SSRS poll had Trump's favourable rating at 42% to a 47% unfavourable rating. The 47% is the highest unfavourable rating we ever recorded for Trump. It's also amazingly high from a historical perspective,” the report reads. “The first lady's current favourability rating is notably higher than the President's (33%) and among Republicans, her favourability number (84%) is higher than either the President's (79%) or the Vice President's (72%).”
CNN’s polls have shown that the average first lady's final popularity rating pre-Trump was 71% with an unpopularity rating of 21%. And the only first lady to leave office with a popularity rating below 40 points was Hillary Clinton, who ended her term at 52% favourable and 39% unfavourable — of course wrapped up in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and her husband's impeachment. Yet even that beat Melania Trump’s polling numbers.
But how much of this actually has to do with Melania and how much of it has to do with Donald Trump? Nothing can be sure, but her constant defence of him likely hasn’t helped her among crowds that are already displeased with their behaviour and their policies. And compared to her predecessor, Michelle Obama, who has a 69% favourability rating, she’s lagging far behind.
Her approval rate plummeted in 2018 initially. Now, this newly abysmal rating comes after Melania's odd farewell message, her touting the Be Best campaign, and her clear snub of Jill Biden’s transition into the role. While none of us were or are looking forward to any more Trumps winning anything in the future, ultimately, it’s unsurprising that Melania — hater of Christmas, critic of undocumented immigrants, and complicit in enabling many of her husband’s harmful behaviours — should win this particular race. It will hopefully be the last one that she ever does.