ABC, Washington Post Pay for Poll to Proclaim ‘The Clintons, So Hot Right Now’

The Washington Post touted their latest poll with ABC News on Wednesday with a headline that simply said “The Clintons. So hot right now.” Peyton Craighill and Scott Clement began: “Hillary and Bill Clinton are two of the most popular political figures in the country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a finding that comes as speculation about the former Secretary of State's political future reaches a fever pitch.”

It also comes as ABC gins up for a tongue-bath book interview with Mrs. Clinton. The pollsters also asked respondents if they “approve or disapprove of the Republican political strategist Karl Rove raising questions about Hillary Clinton's age and health?” Surprise, 66 percent disapproved. 

There were no poll questions about Obama, only the Clintons, and no question on Clinton's problems, like Benghazi. They didn't ask respondents to pick Hillary's greatest foreign-policy achievment.

ABC’s online headline was “Clintons Score in Popularity; Karl Rove, Not so Much.” Greg Holyk relayed the results of this tilted poll:

Hillary Clinton and her ex-president husband win substantial popularity in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Republican strategist Karl Rove, not so much.

Fifty-five percent of Americans say they’d support Clinton running for president in 2016. More, 63 percent, express a favorable opinion of Bill Clinton, the second-highest popularity rating he’s achieved in decades in the public spotlight.

Rove, for his part, gets the cold shoulder for his comments raising questions about Hillary Clinton’s age and health: Sixty-six percent of Americans disapprove, including 46 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of strong conservatives, groups hardly apt to be Clinton fans.


Holyk explained this poll didn’t bother to test Clinton against a potential GOP candidate, but in “head-to-head matchups in ABC/Post polls this year have had similar results, with 53 percent support for Clinton against Chris Christie and Jeb Bush alike, again with large gender gaps.”

The Post offered a separate blog post by Craighill and Clement for Rove, headlined “Americans overwhelmingly side with Hillary Clinton over Karl Rove in brain flap.” After noticing the objections to Rove’s speculation about Hillary’s head injury, they added:

Health questions -- particularly for older candidates -- have been a regular part of the discussion in presidential campaigns. In 2008,  more than four in 10 registered voters in a Post-ABC poll (42 percent) said they were at least "somewhat" uncomfortable with John McCain taking office at the age of 72. At the time, two-thirds of Democrats said they were uncomfortable about McCain entering office at age 72, just 3 years older than Clinton would be at the start of her first term.

Partisans, of course, are much more open to health questions concerning candidates from the opposite party. But the public's broad rebuke of Rove for floating questions about Clinton's health indicates the public may see the issue as more off limits for Clinton, making criticism on these subjects more risky than for male presidential candidates in the past. The numbers may also indicate that Rove is a decidedly flawed messenger to carry such questions in the minds of a majority of the public.

Notice the difference in the ABC-WashPost questions. Right now they ask if voters disapprove of Karl Rove asking about Hillary’s age and health. Back then, they asked “If elected, McCain would take office at age 72. If you honestly assessed yourself, is that something with which you're entirely comfortable, somewhat comfortable, somewhat uncomfortable or entirely uncomfortable?”

Days after that poll, the Obama campaign put out a negative ad saying McCain "admits he still doesn’t know how to use a computer, can’t send an e-mail, still doesn’t understand the economy." Even Joe Biden told Katie Couric back then that he disapproved of the Obama campaign ad mocking McCain’s age.

But ABC didn't have its pollsters ask if people approved or disapproved of the Obama attack. The Post blandly reported the ad in a story headlined "Obama Campaign Begins Counterattack."

They didn't ask about Paul Begala supporting the Obama ad bashing McCain on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on September 14, 2008: "They're trying to paint him as out of touch. You know, the notion that maybe McCain thinks Googling is an alternative lifestyle. And I think that's fine, it's sort of a way to sneak in the age issue...He is 72. He has had cancer four times and so facing the most important decision of his life, does anybody believe he'd put country first or campaign first?"

On the September 15, 2008 Good Morning America, then-ABC anchor Chris Cuomo asked Obama if he would apologize and he bumbled the reply: "If we're gonna ask questions about, you know, who has been promulgating negative ads that are completely unrelated to the issues at hand, I think I win that contest pretty handily."

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