63-year-old Anne Sinclair has stood by her husband since he was arrested over the sexual assault of a New York hotel worker in May. He was later cleared of the charges.
The poll for Terrafemina asked respondents to choose two women from a list of ten, with 25 percent picking Sinclair.
The online magazine described Sinclair as a “symbol of courage and tenacity” in the face of the “legal difficulties” of her husband.
Runner-up in the poll with 24 percent was new IMF boss and former French finance minister Christine Lagarde.
The result caused dismay in some quarters. While Sinclair’s loyalty to her husband despite lurid revelations about his womanizing won her sympathy from some, Green presidential candidate said the result showed that Frenchwomen were living in the past:
“I find it completely objectionable, incredible even, that she could be more popular than a first rate politician and administrator such as Christine Lagarde of the IMF. I think it it demonstrates a very, very outdated idea of life and of male-female relations,” the former investigating magistrate told i-Télé.
“And to make her a heroine? Anne Sinclair is not a role model for women.”
Sinclair was well known before she married Strauss-Kahn as a television journalist. She was the anchor of weekly current affairs programme 7 sur 7 in the 1980s and 1990s.
Third placed was Socialist party general secretary Martine Aubry, who was beaten by François Hollande in November to become the party’s official candidate for the 2012 presidential elections.
Leader of the far right Front National, Marine Le Pen and the singer Nolwenn Leroy finished joint fourth on 18 percent.