Wash. Times misleads with poll to claim Obama's Muslim outreach "may not be working"

››› ››› HANNAH DREIER

In an editorial, The Washington Times claimed that President Obama's efforts at Muslim outreach "may not be working," citing as evidence a poll which found that a majority or large minority of residents of several countries and territories with sizable Muslim populations do not have confidence Obama will "do the right thing in world affairs." However, The Washington Times did not note that the poll's report indicated that in those countries for which data is available, residents have significantly more confidence in Obama than they did in President Bush in 2008.

From the Times' September 4 editorial:

Mr. Obama is engaged in what the White House calls an "on-going dialogue with Muslim communities," but the outreach may not be working. According to data released in July by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, when asked if they had confidence in Mr. Obama to do the right thing regarding world affairs, 57 percent of Iraqis said no, as did 60 percent of Egyptians, 62 percent of Pakistanis and 67 percent of Palestinians. Mr. Obama got better marks in more secularized countries with Muslim majorities, such as Turkey, where 46 percent said they lacked confidence, and Indonesia, where just 31 percent responded negatively. But that is nothing like the 88 percent positive response Mr. Obama got in France or his 95 percent nod in Kenya.

According to poll cited by Times, Obama more popular than Bush in countries for which data available

Poll summary: "Obama's ratings are far higher than the 2008 ratings of President Bush." The Times editorial cited a poll of public opinion on world leaders conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. In the summary accompanying its 2009 poll data, WorldPublicOpinion.org explained: "Obama's ratings are far higher than the 2008 ratings of President Bush. ...The publics in every nation polled in both 2008 and 2009 showed an increase in confidence in Obama compared to Bush -- on average 37 points."

The countries the Times cited as lacking "confidence" in Obama have more confidence in Obama than they had in Bush. The Washington Times suggested that Obama's poll ratings in Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Turkey, and Indonesia indicate that his outreach to Muslims "may not be working." However, Obama polled higher than Bush did in 2008 in each case for which comparable data is available:

  • Egypt. While 39 percent of respondents had "a lot" or "some" confidence in Obama to "do the right thing in world affairs," compared to 60 percent who had "not too much" or "not at all," Obama polled 31 points higher than Bush did in 2008. WorldPublicOpinion.org explained in the summary accompanying its 2009 Egypt polling, "Barack Obama is viewed predominantly negatively, but far better than was George W. Bush, and ranks third among global leaders" [emphasis added].
  • Palestinian territories. While 33 percent of respondents had "a lot" or "some" confidence in Obama to "do the right thing in world affairs," compared to 67 percent who had "not too much" or "not at all," Obama polled 30 points higher than Bush did in 2008.
  • Turkey. While 45 percent of respondents had "a lot" or "some" confidence in Obama to "do the right thing in world affairs," compared to 46 percent who had "not too much" or "not at all," Obama polled 38 points higher than Bush did in 2008. In the summary accompanying its 2009 polling data for Turkey, WorldPublicOpinion.org wrote, "Despite Barack Obama's well-received speech in Istanbul, Turks are divided on Barack Obama. But this is a vast improvement over George W. Bush and actually places Obama at the top of the list of world leaders" [emphasis added].
  • Indonesia. Fifty-four percent of respondents had "a lot" or "some" confidence in Obama to "do the right thing in world affairs," compared to 31 percent who had "not too much" or "not at all." Obama polled 26 points higher than Bush did in 2008. In the summary accompanying its 2009 polling data for Indonesia, WorldPublicOpinion.org wrote: "The only leader in whom a majority of Indonesians express confidence is Barack Obama."
  • 2008 data was not available for Pakistan or Iraq.
Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
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