First lady Michelle Obama, left, listens to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the presentation ceremony of the International Women of Courage Awards at the State Department March 8, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Michelle Edges Out Hillary in First Ladies Poll

The Obamas beat out the Clintons in the power couple category as well. 

First lady Michelle Obama, left, listens to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the presentation ceremony of the International Women of Courage Awards at the State Department March 8, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

First lady Michelle Obama, left, and Hillary Clinton would make good presidents, according to a new study on first ladies. 

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There’s both good news and bad news for Hillary Clinton coming out of the new Siena College and C-SPAN study on first ladies.

The good news: Clinton tops the list when it comes to which first lady scholars see taking the Oval Office gig as well. Experts also suggested, but much less so than Clinton, that Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama would be good presidents, too.


Speaking of Obama, with her inclusion on the list, Clinton got knocked down two spots. Clinton is now sixth on the first ladies ranking, whereas Obama entered the study in fifth place.

[READ: Why Michelle Obama Has a Leg Up on Laura Bush on First Lady Legacy]


Adding salt to the wound, the Obamas were ranked higher in “power couple” standards, too. The Obamas were ranked eighth and the Clintons were ranked ninth following Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martha and George Washington, Edith and Teddy Roosevelt, Dolley and James Madison, Abigail and John Adams, Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy and Mary and Abraham Lincoln, with Mary Lincoln’s unpopularity actually dragging her husband’s rating down.

Siena College has studied the FLOTUS five times since 1982, asking historians, authors and political scientists to rate each first lady from one to five in 10 categories that include “being her own woman,” “leadership,” “courage” and “value to the president.” First lady Eleanor Roosevelt has topped the list every single time. Mary Lincoln, though, has finally found her way out of the bottom five. In the most recent study, she’s the ninth-worst first lady.

The first lady most associated with the sentiment that she could have done more in office was Obama’s predecessor Laura Bush, whose own chief of staff Anita McBride recently worried that Bush’s focus on multiple issues, instead of just one or two, would impact her legacy. 

“I’m watching with great interest how Mrs. Obama has been very focused on the projects that she engages in – she will always be known for 'Let’s Move' and for childhood obesity,” McBride said at the National Press Club last week. “Whereas Laura Bush was doing so many things, it’s harder to identify a single thing that she was involved in.”