Galluping Past Bad Polls?

February 10, 2009 - 5:12 PM
Some of President Obama's policies are not faring well in public opinion, but will anyone be told? On February 2, a Gallup poll found that Obama's executive order "allowing U.S. funding for overseas family planning organizations that provide abortion" was decidedly unpopular: only 35 percent approved, while 58 percent disapproved.
Some of President Obama’s policies are not faring well in public opinion, but will anyone be told? On February 2, a Gallup poll found that Obama’s executive order “allowing U.S. funding for overseas family planning organizations that provide abortion” was decidedly unpopular: only 35 percent approved, while 58 percent disapproved.
   
You didn’t know this? You’re not alone: A Nexis survey finds none of the television networks, cable or broadcast, noticed these results, either.
   
The Gallup survey found overwhelming approval for other Obama policies – on higher fuel efficiency standards, on restricting lobbyists from joining his administration, on interrogating suspects according to the Army Field Manual, and on naming special envoys for Afghanistan and Pakistan – so there is plenty of good news for the administration.
    
But why not report the negative news as well?
    
Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion president in history. He supports the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would provide unlimited, unrestricted taxpayer funding of abortion. Only 9 percent of the public agrees with him. It is no surprise, then, that Obama would not want the media talking about his executive order supporting subsidies for international abortionists.
    
And they didn’t. CBS and NBC noted it in a single sentence. ABC later offered a story, but incredibly chose to focus on the theme that religious-right forces were “brutal” in their opposition
    
Then there is the public concern over the potential dangers of Guantanamo terror suspects being released or moved into American prisons. The media ought to acknowledge that despite their tub-thumping on Bush’s allegedly horrendous record on detainees and how it was hurting our reputation with the Europeans, Bush was not as unpopular on this policy at home as they wanted him to be.
 
According to that same Gallup survey, ordering the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorist suspects closed within a year wasn’t popular, either: 44 percent approved, 50 percent disapproved. 
    
The media are not ignoring all the troubling Gallup poll results for Obama. The number that most of the networks noticed was on the biggest story, the so-called “stimulus” plan.
 
When Gallup asked if Congress should pass Obama’s plan as proposed, make major changes to it, or reject it, only 38 percent said it should pass as proposed, while 37 percent said major changes should be made first, and 17 percent said it should be rejected.
 
On February 3, CBS, CNN, and Fox News all passed along those numbers. CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson announced: “More than half of Americans say Congress should make big changes to the president's stimulus package or reject it all together. And Republicans detect a chink in the armor.”


CNN analyst David Gergen lamented: “I don't think they anticipated was how effective the Republicans and the critics would be in picking it apart.” Appearing as a guest on the “NewsHour” on PBS, Senator John Thune also spread the number, even if the anchors and reporters there hadn’t announced it.
    
ABC ignored the survey that night as if it wasn’t important. Worse yet, NBC went into damage control mode for the administration.
    
Over on MSNBC that night, poll results that discouraged Obama were not very welcome. On Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown,” liberal analyst Craig Crawford mentioned this poll result very vaguely, like it was a spreading venereal disease.
   
But on “Hardball,” Chris Matthews strangely suggested new Gallup polls showed Obama should move faster on his plans: “Just three weeks ago, 83 percent of Americans approved of the way Barack Obama was handling his job as president-elect. Now, amid some tough decisions President Obama, in the new USA Today/Gallup poll, [is] down to a still groovy, but not still heavenly, 63 percent job approval, which translates to a 19-point drop in three weeks. Message from Ben Franklin: In order to get some things done, Mr. President, a stitch in time saves nine.”
    
On her show that evening, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow used Gallup Poll results just like all her MoveOn.org and Daily Kos fans would demand.
 
Armed with a new survey of 2008 voters showing Democrats with an eight-point advantage in party identification, Maddow insisted the Republicans in Washington should not be humored. They should be crushed: “We’ve got a really big crisis in our hands as a country. Is it really that important to bend over backwards to try to make the Republicans in Congress happy right now?”
 
Don’t count on this new Gallup poll getting much play: while 48 percent say the media coverage of Obama is about right in tone, only 11 percent say it’s too tough, while 38 percent said it’s not tough enough. Expect that 38 percent number to grow if the media keeps hiding the poll results they don’t like.