Michelle Obama: Not-so-secret campaign weapon

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

First Lady Michelle Obama, vastly more popular than President Barack Obama, hits the road Thursday for a pair of political fundraisers in Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky that will highlight what an asset she is for her husband's reelection and for Democrats nationwide.

A public opinion poll released January 19 by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 66% of Americans have a positive view of the first lady, while only 44% approve of her husband's performance as president. Just 21% of Americans said they had an unfavorable view of Michelle Obama, compared to a 48% disapproval rating for the President, spelling out starkly the Obamas' differing fortunes since he took office in January 2009.

"Favorable opinions of the first lady have declined only modestly — by 10 points — since peaking at 76% early in her first year in the White House," according to the Pew survey. "By contrast, Barack Obama's personal favorability has fallen by 22 points (from 73% to 51%) during this period." The survey had an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. And that makes Michelle Obama a potent reelection asset: Since October 27, 2011, she has headlined 11 fundraisers in places like Florida, Virginia, or Louisiana — and shows no sign of slowing down.

On Thursday, she will attend a fundraising reception in Cincinnati to benefit the Obama Victory Fund. About 300 people are expected to attend, according to an Obama campaign aide. Tickets start at $250, but the invitation, which was provided to Yahoo News, invites the particularly well-heeled to consider a donation of $10,000, to be rewarded with a "senior campaign staff meeting, meet & greet, & Photo reception." She is then scheduled to travel to Louisville for an event expected to draw 900 people at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.

On March 2, she will head to North Carolina to attend an Obama Victory Fund fundraiser in Raleigh, followed by two more in Charlotte — both featuring special performances by James Taylor, and benefiting the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for the week of September 3.

On March 9, she will attend two fundraising events in Boston, both at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

And she is expected to hold similar events all the way up to election day.

A campaign aide provided details of the first lady's schedule on condition that she not be named.

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