C-SPAN teamed up with Siena College for its fifth comprehensive study to rank the First Ladies of the United States, and our current FLOTUS Michelle Obama came in fifth place.
According to results, Eleanor Roosevelt grabbed the top spot, her fifth No. 1 ranking over the last 32 years. She was followed by Abigail Adams, Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolley Madison, who rounded out the top four. Michelle Obama bumped down Hillary Clinton, who came in fourth place last time the survey was conducted, to sixth.
The research judged each of the former first ladies in 10 categories, including background, public image, integrity, accomplishments and value to the country. At first glance, fifth placed seemed like an injustice for Mrs. Obama, considering she’s a self-proclaimed “mom-in-chief,” face of her “Let’s Move” campaign and an international fashion icon. However, she did land at No. 1 in the balance of family life category.
The survey also named former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as most capable of running the country. “Hillary Clinton is the clear choice of scholars as the First Lady they could most imagine serving as President garnering more than twice the support of Eleanor Roosevelt with Michelle Obama a distant third,” the report said. “While no First Lady is a pull away leader in the category of ‘could have done more while in office’, Laura Bush is mentioned most often followed closely by Pat Nixon, Mamie Eisenhower, Bess Truman and Barbara Bush.”
Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Martha Washington and Rosalynn Carter rounded out the top 10.
The poll, based on interviews with historians, political scientists and other scholars, was released alongside C-SPAN’s “First Ladies” TV series.