ABC's Latest Bad Poll for Obama Gets Spun: 'Opposition to Obamacare Declines'

The new ABC News-Washington Post poll shows Obama’s approval rating stuck at 43 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove, very close to their last result. The Post headline was “Obama’s approval ratings plummet” – over the year. A year ago, it was 52 percent approve, 44 percent disapprove. Online, it was merely a "year of turmoil." But ABC put a happy spin on it.

The headline on ABCNews.com was “OPPOSITION TO OBAMACARE DECLINES.” Click on it, and the headline on pollster Gary Langer’s report? “A Drop in Opposition to Obamacare Helps Stabilize a Struggling Presidency.” So if you're just grazing on the Web, you might think Obama's poll ratings are on the mend. But that's not in the fine print.

Langer wasn't so rosy if you kept reading. He began:

Public opposition to the new health care law has eased in the past month, enough to help level off Barack Obama’s falling popularity – but not to turn it around.

Fifty-five percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove of the president’s job performance overall, unchanged from last month’s reading as the worst of his career. Forty-three percent approve, a scant percentage point from 42 percent in November.

Better for the president is an easing of opposition to the Affordable Care Act, with attitudes back to a close division on the law; 46 percent of Americans support it, with 49 percent opposed. Opposition is down from a record 57 percent last month amid the new system’s troubled rollout.

The Obamacare numbers are dreadful for the president:

Sixty-four percent say that from what they’ve heard the federal government’s sign-up website still is not working as it should. Sixty-two percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the law’s implementation, essentially unchanged from last month. Fifty-five percent still call the website’s failure “a sign of broader problems in implementing the health care law.” And 60 percent say the law’s individual mandate should be delayed, although, in one of the poll’s single biggest one-month changes, that’s down from 71 percent in November.

So what about Good Morning America? ABC gave no clue of bad Obama news at the program's beginning. The top story was the lottery -- "Mega-Mania!" Their show opening also hyped snow in the Northeast, a boyfriend being sought in his girlfriend's death ("Trouble in Paradise"), and a live appearance by singers John Mayer and Katy Perry. After they said hello, ABC also promoted a story on "brazen thievery" by baggage handlers, and an appearance by Will Ferrell.


It took seven minutes into Tuesday morning's program for George Stephanopoulos to suggest to White House reporter Jon Karl that  the president's approval rating is "still stuck," and they spent just 30 seconds noting his polling advantages over Republicans have vanished. It came at the end of a story on a judge disapproving of NSA phone monitoring.

A few minutes later, they spent more than two minutes on a court-ordered limit to paparazzi stalking teenage boy-band singer Harry Styles of One Direction in Britain.

Twenty minutes later, they awarded two minutes to a custody battle -- over an Andy Warhol painting of Farrah Fawcett.

Compare to two months ago: GOP Taking 'Biggest Hit' in Poll, Downplays Bad News for Obama

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis