PEW poll shows Obama’s numbers linked to Sanjaya

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

During the 6th season of American Idol in 2006, Sanjaya Malakar caused uproar in pop culture by advancing to 7th place. For those of you who may not know, American Idol is a reality TV show where young contestants complete in a singing contest and viewers vote on who they thought did the best job. What made this event in reality TV history so monumental was how Sanjaya managed to accomplish this feat. Nearly all other contestants had advanced on singing talent and stage presence. Sanjaya on the other hand advanced because people liked him.

Reality TV’s shtick is to publicize every contestant’s background story. The viewers then get to watch those stories play out on their TV. If the show is good, people feel as though the contestant’s life story has resulted in a reciprocal outcome on the show. There is more to it of course. Story alone is not everything. Watchers also make judgments regarding how the contestants carry themselves on camera and interact with the other contestants.

I apologize for my digression into the realm of pop culture. However, after over 10 years of reality TV our culture has become obsessed with being involved in completing and finishing their favorite celebrity’s life story.

So how does this relate to politics? Despite overwhelming public opposition to nearly all of Obama’s policies, Obama’s approval ratings remain around 60%. If you don’t believe me that many people do not agree with Obama, here is a little expose:

* 45% of American’s (a majority of those surveyed) believe the rest of Obama’s stimulus should be canceled
* 62% of American’s feel that economic recovery is more important than transfer of wealth
* 49% of American’s (a majority of those surveyed) believe that health care reform should wait
* 62% of American’s believe Iran should halt nuclear development before Obama meets with them
* 45% of people opposed the government auto loans, 80% feared that the government would get too involved and 72% opposed Obama getting more involved in February
* 49% oppose closing Guantanamo and 56% oppose bringing detainees to the US

Not all polls have been negative for Obama. Most people approve of his Supreme Court pick, Sotomayor, and believed that he should have done some type of stimulus plan. So what’s keeping his numbers up?

Those I’ve talked to on the left believe that the election of Obama points at a shift to the left in the country and an acceptance of the leftist agenda. Polling doesn't seem to indicate this argument holds water. I have a different take.

Obama truly has an amazing story. He was shuffled around as a child, was not born into the US elite, and from what we can guess (because no one will let us look at actual documentation), Obama is a self-made success. I propose that there is a large number of Americans that voted for and continue to support Obama, because they want to see a positive completion to the Obama story.

Now I can’t complain about Obama promoting himself for political gain. After all, that’s what politics is about. However, a recent PEW survey shows why Obama has been and continues to be successful in promoting himself over and above of the negative public opinion of his agenda. According to the article, the media coverage of Obama has been largely skewed in the favorable direction, 42% favorable coverage versus 20% unfavorable. The more convincing fact in this study is the nature of the stories. News stories of Obama’s personal and leadership qualities and not Obama’s policies are at an astounding 44% of media coverage.

Could it be that the media wants the public to continue to focus on helping the story of Obama end in success as opposed to pointing out that a majority of people do not agree with Obama? Hard to believe when this same playbook for Obama is being used to push Sotomayor’s confirmation. When she was announced the media was abuzz about her story, not her qualifications.

There are consequences to all actions and although the media may be pulling the wool over the eyes of the public where Obama's policies is concerned, that coverage does not extend to congress. For those of you who believe that the Republicans are irrelevant and will continue to dwindle in the 2010 elections, take a look at the new poll from Rasmussen pictured below. It shows America's trust on issues by party.

What is most interesting about the poll is a shift in public support away from the Democrats and towards Republicans. Left Coast Rebel has an excellent commentary on this new trend entitled "Tides of Opinion - Candles Burning Half as Long".


The Law said...

I don't read the numbers that way, the poll on the bottom. The numbers represent the same ideologies that republicans and democrats push: democrats are great for social issues, and republicans are better with the economy and national security.

The polls on the top of the screen is a bit more alarming. Obama does a rather good job at laying out the big picture idea. I must admit that the particualrs in every case has been quite fuzzy, and it is hard to get behind the logic (or illogic) without fully understanding the solution. For example, my support for the handling of the GM crisis has steadily dwindled to close to zero. I'm not a fan of that policy.

Also I 100% agree we should have universal healthcare, but I have no clue how it is even possible at this juncture. If Obamas handling of the GM situation is unconstituional, then there should be no question that gitmo is equal unconstitutional. *any* person in America, citizen or not, is entitled to a fair trial, and most at guantanomo didn't get that.

So while Obama has not been perfect by any means, I think what people are attracted to is the long term plan. I know most conservatives think there is no long term plan, but I think that's mostly because they don't agree with the agenda set forth, not that Obama doesn't heavily consider the long term plan. GM is a perfect example: if the long term plan works out, a little "sacrifice" on the bondholders part means that everyone should win when the auto comapnies recover. In Vegas, thats called a long bet. I'm not exactly a gambling man...

Now if its 2011 and America still feels exactly the same, expect a republican in the white house in 2012. This would indicate that the plans at its foundation, while noble and a worthwhile cause, weren't executed or planned properly. Liberals have been waiting for a loooong time for the kinds of changes he's promised, and I think most of us are willing to hold out as long as we possibly can for him.

June 10, 2009 at 11:11 PM

Conservative Gen - Great post as always, I like the allusion that you use with the American Idol contestant vs. Obama. Very smart, also, you have a few more facts on the polling that I didn't see....62% believe that economic recovery is more important than transfer of wealth? Amazing, you see America is essentially a center-right nation, Obama's election did not change this as some fear. The nation didn't suddenly wake up one morning and decide that the left was right - they simply fell in love with the story and style of Obama, wanted a change, and were disgusted by the lack consistency on the party of repubs. George Bush turning tail on conservatives and the free market sealed the deal. I'm going to link you as well, well done....

June 10, 2009 at 11:29 PM

The Law - I respect your come-around on the GM issue, did you change your mind through engaging debates with consgen? He is a bit of a better source of articulation on the nuts and bolts of that deal. As you know too, I am very dismayed by it, I don't believe in the ''sacrifice'' of the bondholders in that the true essence is that Obama superseded contract law and played God with the company. How that can even muster up constitutionality is beyond me! Remember too that giving the chief executive the ability to rearrange a business in this fashion is a terrible precedent. Who's to say that the next president won't be a right-winger that wants to insert his cronies into a failing company and do a roundabout in regards to the legitimate rights-holders? Maybe the right-winger would feel it necessary to stick the screws to a liberal group in said business, using Obama's precedent. Be careful of what you ask for! This is the same thing that I told conservatives during the Bush years, ie. that it was not wise to grant him powers just because he was a repub, knowing full well that the cards could be turned and such rules or the bending of them could be used against them.

I am just curious, I've seen you mention Obama's 'long term' plan, what do you mean exactly? I want details :).

June 11, 2009 at 12:06 AM


Thank you for your praise. I really appreciate it!


It's only my interpretation of the polls. I think there is certainly a disconnect between people's opinions of his policies and his approval.

I don't think your average person on the right doesn't understand what Obama's big picture is. I'll admit it sounds nice. I will also admit that Obama has an overall understanding of the key issues that need to be addressed. The problem in my mind is that the agenda that Obama proposes does not lead us to the big picture he talks about.

One problem with long term thinking is by placing the goal so far away, it blurs the steps needed to acheive the goal.

For example, "we are going to have an energy dependant US." Sounds nice. Then we get into the nitty gritty. "We are going to do this by using only renewable energy." Ok, but getting a little tougher. "We are not going to increase production of any reliable, efficient and abundant sources of energy such as nuclear, oil, and coal in the short term. In fact, I'm going to quickly try and force an end to these in the short-term" Sounds much more limited. "I'm going to steer away from bio-fuels and hydrogen power." Ouch! "We are going to tax companies higher than we ever have in the past to meet strict standards that will have little change on carbon reductions over the century." Ugh! "This action is going to put many, many, many, more people out of work and costs will go to consumers." Hmmm :( "We are going to pass all of this during a serious economic downturn." Yikes! "But don't worry. It'll all pan out someday. Where's airforce one, I've got a big date in NY to go to. Have a nice day!"

I'm 100% for energy independence as I believe just about every one on the right is. However, I don't see how I can trust the policies of a President to get us to the promised land, when so many good ideas like increasing nuclear energy capacity is left on the roadside.

I won't even go into the 1,000 pages of Waxman/Markey, but a plan that complicated cannot possibly be a viable roadmap, but a winding, twisting, off-beaten-track trek through the briar patch.

June 11, 2009 at 1:54 PM


please excuse my use of double negatives...oops

June 11, 2009 at 1:54 PM
The Law said...

LCR, indeed, debating with Cgen, and all of you, as well as my own research and search for understaning has helped to reform my view on GM. I am always happy to admit when my mind is changed on an issue because doing anythign else woudl make me ignorant =) But a legitimate argument was raised, we go back and forth, and I think in this case the conservative argument makes more sense to me, so thats where I stand.

Also, I see see where you're coming from as well Cgen. Transparency doesnt end on the internet, I think the individual steps should be made more clear. Throw out some ideas, let it get murdered in the news and blogger outlets, and then work with the pieces that remain.

June 11, 2009 at 6:46 PM

TL - I commend your honesty, your 'center-left' instincts come through in that you are true to yourself. That's tough to find these day. Also, I posted a piece about socialized medicine today. I'm so sorry, but after reading specifics, I coulndn't help but use the term 'socialist' etc many times. Hope you can still offer up some debate on it!

June 11, 2009 at 8:04 PM

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