Candidate's spouse can affect election

Aug. 25, 2008 at 10:05 AM
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DENVER, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Polling indicates Michelle Obama's address to the Democratic National Convention in Denver Monday night can help her husband win votes in the fall.

In the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll, 52 percent of those questioned Thursday through Saturday said a candidate's spouse is important, USA Today reported Monday.

However, political strategists disagree on how much of an impact the spouse of a presidential candidate can really have in the outcome of an election.

"The vice president doesn't matter. So why would the first lady candidate matter?" asks Sheila Tate, former press secretary to Nancy Reagan.

Mark McKinnon, media strategist for President Bush, says in a close race a spouse can make a difference.

"It works at the margins, but in close elections, margins can be really important," McKinnon told USA Today.

McKinnon says when evaluating their choices for president, voters "look at the whole picture, and the wives are very much a key component of that picture."

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