Poor Dana Blanton. As Fox News’s polling director, she oftentimes has to report on poll results that just don’t jive with Fox News’s overall message (i.e., Obama baaad – and not in a good way).
So for Fox News’ recently released 2012 Year-End Poll, poor Dana had to comb through the 30+ pages of data to find and spin the statistics with which to write up her reports and hope the short attention spans of Fox viewers/readers would go no further than the titles and first few paragraphs.
The poll was split into four separate reports (all written by Dana). Following are their ‘fair-and-balanced’ headlines:
Fox News poll: Voters give both 2012, Obama mixed reviews
Fox News poll: According to voters, spending cuts are a must
Fox News poll: Voters say the federal government is broken
Fox News poll: President should have sent troops to Benghazi, voters say
Let’s take a closer look at the data, shall we? (Methodological blah-blah: Fox conducted its poll in conjunction with Anderson Robbins Research (D) / Shaw and Company Research (R) for bipartisan results. 1,012 randomly sampled registered voters across the nation were polled via both telephone and live interviews from December 9-11, 2012 (results have a ±3% margin of error)).
“Voters give both 2012, Obama mixed reviews”
Dana began this report with what she considers to be the stand-out statistic:
“[V]oters are almost twice as likely to say Obama will be one of the country’s “worst” presidents as to say he will be one of the “greatest.”
While this is technically accurate (12% said he’d be one of the greatest, while 23% said he’d be one of the worst), more respondents (41%) said he’d be “good” or “one of the greatest” (up 12 points from Dec. 2010) compared to 37% saying he’d be “below average” or “one of the worst.”
And then Dana reports:
“Some 42 percent of voters feel 2012 was a good year, while 41 percent say it was bad. Another 15 percent have mixed feelings.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I think she missed the more positive trend: It’s the first time since 2009 that the poll showed more people thought the past year was a good one than a bad one. In 2009, in the midst of the recession, only 34% of poll respondents thought the year had been good compared to 50% bad. In 2010, the optimism crept up six points to 40% feeling 2010 was good compared to 48% bad. Now why on earth wouldn’t Fox News want people to know that things were looking up?
“Just under half of voters — 48 percent — approve of the job Obama is doing as president, down from 51 percent right before the election (October 2012). Almost as many — 46 percent — disapprove.”
Another way to say this would be more voters approve than disapprove of the President’s job performance by a two-point margin (up four points from the same time last year, and up eight points from the year before). So that’s good news for Obama.
“According to voters, spending cuts are a must”
Dana starts out:
“A majority says major spending cuts are necessary to solve the country’s budget woes — that solely raising taxes on taxpayers earning more than $250,000 isn’t enough. Even so, the most popular proposal among voters for reducing the deficit is — you guessed it — raising taxes on the rich.”
She’s right – a whopping 69% of respondents favored increasing taxes on incomes over $250,000/year, and 89% of respondents believe that if income taxes go up, the President should agree to make major spending cuts as well.
Interest in the issue of the “fiscal cliff” is high – 91% of respondents expressed interest in the issue, with 68% saying “very interested.” Optimism remains high, as the majority (49%) maintains lawmakers will be able to come to an agreement, while only 34% believe we’ll be heading over that fiscal cliff; the majority of respondents (52%) believe if this happens, it would be a “terrible” thing (though only 46% believe it would be a terrible thing for them personally).
Only 38% of those polled think President Obama has a clear plan for how to deal with the national debt and deficit issues facing the country. Sounds like a dismally low number until you hear the same question about Congressional Republicans, who have garnered the faith of only 26% of poll respondents.
“Voters say the federal government is broken”
Congress is doing dismally (only a 17% approval rate), but at least it’s five points higher than it was the same time a year ago. 7% of respondents think Congress is performing “pretty well” and another 26% believe it’s doing “just okay” but a whopping 65% believe it’s just plain “broken.”
I love this following question (don’t know why Dana didn’t include it in her report):
“What do you think is the main reason Barack Obama is insisting on raising taxes on wealthy Americans? 1. He wants to soak the rich because he thinks their wealth and success are unfair. 2. He thinks it can solve the budget problem. 3. He wants to hurt the Republican Party. 4. All/Combination. 5. Don’t know.”
The majority – 51% — believe it’s because he wants to solve the budget problem. Only 17% think it’s because he wants to “soak the rich” and 14% believe it’s to “hurt the Republican party.” (The all/combination and ‘don’t know’ were split pretty evenly, 9% and 10% respectively.)
“President should have sent troops to Benghazi, voters say”
Keeping the Benghazi controversy alive, Dana begins:
“By a wide 65-24 percent margin, voters think President Obama should have sent U.S. troops to Benghazi, Libya to try to stop the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans at the consulate there.”
The survey question was:
“On the night of the attack, do you think President Obama should have ordered U.S. troops to go to Benghazi and help the Americans at the consulate there?”
What a strangely worded question, in light of the events that occurred that night in Benghazi; according to the account given to the Wall Street Journal by Libyan and U.S. officials:
“A large-scale attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, surprised personnel at the compound on Sept. 11. Militants overwhelmed the guards and set fire to structures before the occupants could escape or reinforcements arrived.”
Dana went on to address the other question regarding Benghazi:
“Fully 80 percent of Republicans believe the administration has covered up what happened at the consulate in Benghazi. For independents, 45 percent believe there was a cover up, while 48 percent disagree. By 65-22 percent, Democrats says there has not been a cover up.”
80% of Republicans believe there was a cover-up? Gee, I wonder why that would be.
If you want to look at Dana’s reports, all containing links to the full poll results, check out Dana’s archives here.