In the Arena

Sky Still Not Falling

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The reading and spinning of polls is more alchemy than science. The Washington Post, in its infinite wisdom, leads that paper today with this headline: 6 in 10 Americans lack faith in Obama. Uh-oh…paging Pete Wehner and the rest of the sky-is-falling crowd.

And, of course, the numbers are not great news for the President. But it takes 15–count ’em–paragraphs to get to this little news nugget: Obama has a 50-47% approval rating. How on earth can that be? Well, it turns out that Americans don’t have much faith in any politicians. Indeed, people have more faith in Obama than they do in most anyone else: if 58% say they have “some” or “no” faith in him, 68% say the same about the Democrats in Congress…and 72% have no faith in the Republicans.

So, what’s this all about? Tough times, mostly. Let’s take a test: Do you have faith that the President is doing the right thing on the economy? My answer: I don’t have a clue. Actually, at the moment, I’m leaning toward “no” because Obama seems to be tilting against stimulus and toward short-term deficit reduction–which could swing us into a double-dip recession.

This is also about the over-hyping of polls. Newspapers pay lots of money for them and hope they will create a splash. In this case, the real news is no news. The President’s approval ratings remain pretty good, given all the lousy news abroad in the land–and pretty stable as well. The Congressional Democrats, on the other hand, have a lot to worry about.

Update: The usually excellent Edward Luce of the Financial Times gets caught up in the hoopla and (mis)reports that Obama’s approval rating is down to 40%. Of such booboos are snowballs born.