Claims of Mass. Senate race as "referendum on President Obama" undermined by poll

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Earlier today, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips claimed that the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election "has become the first public referendum on President Obama." But election night polling by Rasmussen Reports showing that 53 percent of Massachusetts voters approve of Obama's job performance undermines this claim, and Scott Brown himself has stated that the race was "not a referendum on Obama."

From the January 19 edition of CNN Newsroom:

PHILLIPS: There's a much bigger picture here than Brown versus Coakley. This election has become the first public referendum on President Obama and health care reform.

Rasmussen poll of Mass. voters shows majority support for Obama

Fifty-three percent of Mass. voters approve of Obama job performance. In a January 19 post to his Twitter feed, referring to a Rasmussen Reports election night poll, Scott Rasmussen stated that "53% of Massachusetts voters approve of Obama performance." As Media Matters for America has documented, Rasmussen reportedly worked for President George W. Bush's re-election campaign and for the Republican National Committee in 2003 and 2004.

Even Brown himself stated that the election was "not a referendum on the president"

Brown's "Last Pitch": "It's not a referendum on the president. There are many issues." In his January 18 "Last Pitch" interview with Boston's ABC affiliate, Brown said of the race: "It's not a referendum on the president. There are many issues; you're talking about national security, taxes, spending -- the health care plan certainly is important."

Rasmussen poll also undermines Phillips' claim of election as referendum on health care

Numerous media figures have suggested that a Brown victory would indicate massive popular rejection of health care reform. But Rasmussen's polling indicates that a higher percentage of Coakley voters than Brown voters said that health care reform was the most important issue in determining their vote, with 52 percent of Brown voters calling it their top issue compared to 68 percent of Coakley voters.

Kyra Phillips
CNN Newsroom
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