Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Media We've Got .

Froomkin: Obama, Slayer of the GOP

The coverage of the latest wave of public-opinion polls has focused mostly on President Obama's ostensible political weaknesses. But the more important story may be the increased marginalization of his Republican opposition.

Three major polls out in the past week tell the same story: Of a Republican party that is widely disliked and mistrusted -- and that is becoming essentially irrelevant. Notably, on the single most polarizing aspect (the "public option") of the biggest political issue of the moment (Obama's proposed health-care overhaul), the public overwhelmingly supports Obama's position.

Republicans have essentially no power in the House. And even in the Senate, their ability to effectively block Obama is minimal without the cooperation of a handful of unreliable center-right Democrats.

In fact, the only real power Republicans have left is granted to them by a media culture that consistently clamors for bipartisan solutions, even as one of the parties increasingly represents a shrunken minority of hardened extremists.

Overall, public support for Obama remains very strong -- particularly considering all the unpleasantness he's having to deal with. The new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds his approval rating at 65 percent, with majority support for his handling of the economy, health care, international affairs, the threat of terrorism, the situation with Iran and global warming. His public support is slightly less than 50 percent in two areas: the budget deficit and the auto industry bailout.

By contrast, the Republican Party is viewed favorably by only 36 percent of the public, down from 51 percent three years ago, and the lowest in Washington Post polling history, but for a one-time blip in late 1998 on the eve of the Republican House's impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Obama leads Congressional Republicans by wide margins when asked who they trust to handle the deficit (56 to 30); health care reform (55 to 27); the economy (55 to 31); and the threat of terrorism (55 to 34).

Yes, even while the poll coverage would have you believe that the deficit is Obama's big political vulnerability, it it actually the one issue the public most trusts Obama to handle -- at least when the alternative is putting Republicans in charge. The utter hypocrisy of Republicans lecturing Obama on the deficit is apparently not lost on the public.

Last week's New York Times/CBS News poll found Republicans with only a 28 percent favorability rating, the lowest ever in that poll. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News found only 23 percent of the public feels either very or somewhat positive about the GOP -- down from 44 percent four years ago, and an all-time low from that poll as well.

Don't forget the trend Nate Silver and others blogged about a few months ago, namely that "Republican party identification, which had already been at fairly low levels, in fact appears to have slumped further since Inauguration Day."

And for good measure, Susan Page writes in USA Today that a new USA Today/Gallup Poll finds that over the past two months, "expectations for the future have brightened significantly amid rising optimism about a stock market rebound and economic turnaround."

So how are the Republicans trying to stop the bleeding? Health reform is Obama's biggest legislative priority right now, and the GOP is making its big stand in opposition to a "public plan," which would allow people to purchase insurance from a government-run plan if they weren't happy with the private options.

But according to the Wall Street Journal poll, 76 percent of Americans consider a public option either extremely (41 percent) or quite (35 percent) important. A recent Employee Benefit Research Institute poll found that 83 percent either strongly (53 percent) or somewhat (30 percent) support the availability of a public plan.

Nevertheless, today's coverage focuses on Obama's weaknesses.

"Obama Approval: Trouble Ahead?" says the headline on Gary Langer's analysis for ABC News.


Daily Kos:

Yep, we agree with Dan.

At some point, official media-dom will have to come to grips with how poorly the GOP is doing with the public. The GOP numbers:

It can't be hidden any more. No one likes the GOP and bipartisanship is not an ideal shared by the public. Bottom line: the economy gives folks the jitters, but opposition numbers are in the toilet. Don't bet against this President getting what he wants... once he decides what exactly that is, anyway

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