Michelle Obama Would Lead Race for Husband’s Old Senate Job

If Michelle Obama has any interest in the U.S. Senate seat her husband held before winning the White House, a new poll shows she’d have an advantage over Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois in 2016.

The first lady has expressed zero interest in running for office, and she and President Barack Obama have generally shown a greater fondness for Chicago and Honolulu than Washington.

Still, she and her husband will be relatively young when they leave the White House in 2017 and might still want to consider second careers. And there is a precedent: Hillary Clinton became the first president’s wife elected to office in 2000, when she won her high-profile and expensive U.S. Senate race in New York. She took office in January 2001, just as she and President Bill Clinton were leaving the White House.

Michelle Obama leads Republican Kirk 51 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical match-up in a survey of 500 Illinois voters taken Nov. 26-28 by Public Policy Polling. The automated telephone poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

Kirk, who suffered a stroke in January, was elected in 2010. His office confirmed today that he plans to return to the Senate on Jan. 3.

The freshman senator has an approval rating of 34 percent in the poll, with 19 percent disapproving. Michelle Obama’s Illinois approval rating is 60 percent, even better than her husband’s home state rating of 57 percent.

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