Media advance dubious claim that MA Senate election was a referendum on Obama


The Associated Press, the New York Post, and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough advanced the claim that the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election was, in Scarborough's words, "a rejection of Barack Obama." But election night polling showing that the majority 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."

Media advance claim that MA election was referendum on Obama

AP: "Race seen as a referendum on Obama's first year in office." The AP wrote in a January 20 article that the Massachusetts Senate race was "seen as a referendum on Obama's first year in office."

NY Post: "Republicans said the race was a referendum on Obama." A January 20 New York Post article claimed that "[g]leeful Republicans said the race was a referendum on Obama." The Post then quoted a National Republican Senatorial Committee statement as saying, "Democrats nationwide should be on notice."

Scarborough: Election a "rejection of Barack Obama." On the January 20 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Scarborough said of the Senate race, "[A]nyway you look at it, this is a rejection of Barack Obama."

Exit polls of MA voters show majority support for Obama

Rasmussen: Fifty-three percent of MA voters approve of Obama job performance. In its election night polling, Rasmussen Reports found that 53 percent of Massachusetts voters "approve of the way that Barack Obama has handled his job as President." As Media Matters for America has documented, pollster Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, reportedly worked for President George W. Bush's re-election campaign and for the Republican National Committee in 2003 and 2004.

Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates: Obama held a 59 percent favorability mark and 55 percent job approval rating among MA voters. A January 20 Politico article reported that a Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates exit poll found that "Obama's personal favorability remained high with voters." The poll found that "Obama boasted a 59 percent favorability mark" and "Obama's job approval rating even stayed at a respectable 55 percent as voters trekked to the ballot box to oppose the candidate he campaigned for just two days earlier. The president even earned a passing mark on his handling of the economy (50 percent approval) and received a clear majority's support for his work in the war in Afghanistan (59 percent approval)." Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates is a Republican polling firm.

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."

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
New York Post, MSNBC, Associated Press
Joe Scarborough
Morning Joe
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