Today, two new national polls were released, one by the New York Times and CBS, the other by the Wall Street Journal and NBC. News headlines quickly settled on a theme: The polls showed that President Obama’s policies were suddenly unpopular:
“Sticker Shock — Obama still popular; his policies, not so much” [ABC's The Note]
“Polls find rising concern with Obama on key issues” [Reuters]
“Polls Show Declining Support For Obama Decisions” [U.S. News & World Report's Political Bulletin]
“Obama’s popularity: Problems testing it” [Chicago Tribune's The Swamp]
“Is ‘Smooth Sailing’ Over for Obama?” [Washington Post]
The headlines have little to no relation to the actual data in the polls, both of which found broad approval for Obama’s foreign policy and economic agendas. From the New York Times/CBS poll:
5. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy? 57% approve, 35% disapprove
8. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the threat of terrorism? 57% approve, 27% disapprove
16. So far, do you think Barack Obama’s policies have made the economy better, made the economy worse or haven’t his policies had any effect on the economy yet? 32% say better, 15% say worse
And from the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll:
4b. Do you generally approve or disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing in handling the economy? 51% approve, 38% disapprove
4c. Do you generally approve or disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing in handling foreign policy? 54% approve , 36% disapprove
9. Which ONE of the following statements best describes your feelings toward Barack Obama?
Like personally and approve most policies…………… 48%
Like personally but disapprove of many policies ……27%
12. And how confident are you that Barack Obama has the right set of goals and policies to improve the economy––extremely confident, quite confident, only somewhat confident, or not at all confident?
Extremely confident………………………. 20%
Quite confident …………………………. 26%
Only somewhat confident ………………….. 24%
Not at all confident …………………….. 29%
Similarly, 68 percent agree with Obama’s view that Guantanamo detainees should be charged with a crime or released back to their home countries, as opposed to only 24 percent who think they should be detained indefinitely. As Glenn Greenwald notes, “The view that detainees should be charged with crimes or released is often depicted as the fringe ‘Far Left’ view. Like so many views that are similarly depicted, it is — in reality — the overwhelming consensus view among Americans.”
Perhaps the most bizarre headline came from USA Today’s blog, The VAL: “Poll: Obama down, cousin Cheney up.” The poll cited showed that 60 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Obama. By contrast, only 27 percent viewed Cheney favorably — while 30 percent viewed him “very negatively.”
The headline to a new Pew research poll claims Obama faces “Some Policy Concerns.” However, the poll finds that 61 percent approve of Obama’s job performance (including 57 percent and 52 percent approving of his handling of foreign and economic policy, respectively), while 65 percent are “optimistic” Obama’s policies will improve economic conditions.