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Just how much influence does Michelle Obama wield over Latina voters?

LatinaLista — A new survey released today finding the vast majority of Latinas leaning towards Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential election wasn’t a big shocker. Headline after headline has been pointing out how Obama still leads among Latino voters.

US First Lady Michelle Obama greets a student at the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City on April 14, 2010. (Photo: OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images)

To say there is a comfort level that Obama will fight on behalf of Latino children and women is a no-brainer. After all, because of him, women don’t have a co-pay when getting their birth control, the economy is slowly getting better and he (finally) did give some help to DREAMer students. So, the fact that the Mamiverse survey found that 93 percent of their respondents said they would vote for Obama wasn’t surprising.

What was the takeaway from this survey was that 53 percent admitted “that the president’s spouse could influence their vote.”

De veras? (Really?)

Since the survey didn’t go into great detail, it’s not clear just how the First Lady could influence their votes. With her behavior? Her fashion sense? Her campaign speeches? Her parenting style? Her appearances on late-nite TV shows?

It’s true that First Ladies have always contributed something to a campaign. Whether it made their husbands seem more human or showed just how ‘in touch’ their family really was to daily real-world challenges, First Ladies have always had a degree of influence but it’s always been considered a ‘lesser degree’ when compared to their husband’s record or his likability.

Yet, the survey begs the question: Could a First Lady really wield so much power among Latinas?

The simple answer is yes and no.

It’s not that Michelle Obama is First Lady but that she is the wife of Barack Obama and she is relatable to Latinas. For starters, her mom lives with the First Couple in the White House; she doesn’t just come for weekend visits — and she takes care of the grandchildren.

It’s a home life that is repeated among many Latina households, at some level.

The fact that Michelle Obama speaks out about good nutrition and exercise and those issues that are not necessarily politically driven but driven by wanting the best for her family is something else that appeals to Latinas.

Finally, that Michelle Obama comes across as a strong, educated woman of color who holds her husband accountable for spending time with the children, not smoking, etc. is another thing that resonates with most Latinas.

The country has had four years to get to know her and what she’s like and that definitely puts her at an advantage over Ann Romney.

However, in the end, it would be hoped that the First Lady’s influence over Latina voters remains in perspective and that voters do what they’re supposed to do in the voting booth — choose the candidate who resonates the most with them.

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