And Melania Trump's numbers could rise — especially after the launch of her long-awaited public awareness campaign “Be Best,” which will focus on childhood well-being, social media use and opioid abuse. The initiative is unlikely to draw opposition from either side of the aisle.
But while she could attract increased praise for helping to create a more hospitable social media climate for America's youth, one thing could be standing in her way: President Trump.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans say the president is not a good role model for children, according to a March Quinnipiac University poll.
“Social media is too often used in negative ways, but when children learn positive behavior early on, it can be used in productive ways,” Trump said in her platform launch in the White House Rose Garden. “We have the responsibility to educate and remind [children] when they use their voices to choose their words wisely and speak with respect and kindness.”
Of course, the first lady's cause only calls more attention to how her husband uses social media. Many Americans' concerns about the president extend to his potential impact on children. In the same Quinnipiac poll, most Americans — 55 percent — say he does not have a sense of decency.
Even some Republicans have commented on how Trump's influence on children. “It's been no secret I have disagreed with the president on some of his moral choices, some of the ways that he says things,” Sen. James Lankford (R.-Okla.) said on CNN last month. "I don't speak the way he speaks, and I don't encourage my children to speak the way that he speaks.”
The first lady does not seem worried her cause is preventing something many think her husband embodies. In fact, her distinguishing herself from the president has possibly been one of the reasons for her relative popularity.
“Melania Trump’s 'Be Best' campaign and her 57 percent approval rating is in part because she’s differentiating herself from her husband,” Kate Andersen Brower, author of “First Women” told the Fix. “The East Wing and the West Wing are generally viewed separately and most first ladies try to stay above the political fray.”
And while Trump may not encourage children to speak the way her husband does, she at times has appeared to encourage some of her husband's more controversial behavior and statements. When the president was criticized in June 2017 for using Twitter to claim that MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski was “crazy” and had a “low I.Q.,” in addition to suggesting she had bad plastic surgery, a spokesperson for Melania Trump defended her husband.
“As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder,” said Stephanie Grisham, her spokeswoman.
This approach has made her the recipient of criticism from the left accusing of her of being complicit in some of the president's worst behavior. But viewing her primarily through the lens of her husband may be the wrong way to assess her or any first lady — especially since historically first ladies don't usually help their husband’s approval ratings, Brower said.
“She’s adopted an apolitical, nonpartisan and compassionate formal campaign and her persona is one of an empathetic person,” she said. “I thinks she’s a bright spot in his administration but again, I think people view her as separate from her husband.”
Besides, despite her desire to improve the quality of life of children, there might not be much the first lady could do to make the president change his social media behavior.
“I don’t think anything short of President Trump publicly stating that he wants to follow her 'Be Best' model and be kinder on social media, etc. would help,” Brower said.