Poll Broder cited undermines his claim that Americans have "forgotten" Bush

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

In his Washington Post column, David Broder asserted that Americans have "forgotten" former President Bush and that "Obama has become the only president [they] think about." In fact, the poll Broder cited undermines both his assertions.

In his June 21 Washington Post column, David Broder asserted that former President Bush has "pretty much ... been forgotten" by Americans and that "Obama has become the only president the American people think about." He then pointed to "a series of polls," and in particular, highlighted results about President Obama's handling of the economy and the priority he should assign to reducing the federal deficit. However, one of the polls Broder cited undermines both assertions, finding that 46 percent of respondents said that the Bush administration is "most responsible for the federal budget deficit," while 6 percent said the Obama administration is most responsible for the deficit. The same poll also found that when asked about "the current economic conditions," 72 percent said it was a "situation that Barack Obama has inherited," while 14 percent said it was a "situation his policies are mostly responsible for."

Broder wrote: "In the five months since he left the presidency, Bush has immersed himself in his memoir. He has stayed home in Texas and rarely spoken publicly. The result has been that he has largely disappeared from the news and -- the point the Obama aide was making -- pretty much has been forgotten." He later added: "Five months into his tenure, Obama has become the only president the American people think about. And a series of polls last week showed that when Americans think about Obama, they are becoming increasingly critical." He then wrote, "The Wall Street Journal-NBC, the New York Times-CBS and the Pew Research Center polls all reported similar findings. Barack Obama retains his personal popularity, with overall job approval scores at upward of 60 percent. But when asked about specific important policies of the administration, the scores are much lower -- or even negative." Broder noted several results from the latter two polls regarding economic issues, including the Pew Research Center poll's finding that "the share of voters applauding Obama's handling of the economy declined from 60 percent in April to 52 percent now," and the CBS News/New York Times poll's finding that "[b]y a 2-1 margin, this survey found that voters answered negatively when asked if Obama has developed a clear plan for dealing with the deficit."

But Broder's assertions -- that Americans have "pretty much ... forgotten" Bush and that Obama "has become the only president the American people think about" -- are undermined by results in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll he linked to:


From Broder's June 21 Washington Post column:

In a conversation the other day with a White House official, I heard something I'd never expected from an employee of Barack Obama's. "I wish," he said, "George Bush would speak up a little more."

In the five months since he left the presidency, Bush has immersed himself in his memoir. He has stayed home in Texas and rarely spoken publicly. The result has been that he has largely disappeared from the news and -- the point the Obama aide was making -- pretty much has been forgotten.

Bush's silence has made it harder for Obama to keep the public focused on Bush as being responsible for our present difficulties -- the weak economy, the unsettled wars, the scandals of Guantanamo and the detainee program.

It is not for lack of trying. Obama regularly reminds the public in his speeches and news conferences of all the problems he inherited from his predecessor. But to reporters covering the White House, those reminders have become familiar boilerplate. And since Bush won't fight back, they rarely get much coverage.

Five months into his tenure, Obama has become the only president the American people think about. And a series of polls last week showed that when Americans think about Obama, they are becoming increasingly critical.

The Wall Street Journal-NBC, the New York Times-CBS and the Pew Research Center polls all reported similar findings. Barack Obama retains his personal popularity, with overall job approval scores at upward of 60 percent. But when asked about specific important policies of the administration, the scores are much lower -- or even negative.

In Andrew Kohut's survey for Pew, the share of voters applauding Obama's handling of the economy declined from 60 percent in April to 52 percent now. He barely broke even on his approach to the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts, with 47 percent approving and 44 percent disapproving. By a 22-point margin, those polled disagree with spending billions to keep the companies operating.

For weeks, polls have consistently registered opposition to Obama's decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. His speech blaming Bush for opening the prison apparently did little to ease the political fallout.

The New York Times-CBS poll had more worrisome news. As the size of the budget deficits has become more evident, concerns about the budget policies of the administration have grown. By a 2-1 margin, this survey found that voters answered negatively when asked if Obama has developed a clear plan for dealing with the deficit. A 52 percent to 41 percent majority rejected the Obama priority for stimulating the economy at the cost of higher deficits. They said the focus should be on reducing the deficit.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Person
David Broder
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