The conservative narrative about President Barack Obama is that he is rushing down the road to socialism and the public is rising up against his big government schemes. So the florid anti-Obama rhetoric of the “tea party” activists and Joe Wilsons of the world is not extreme, but rather an expression of underlying public sentiment.
Newly released data from the Pew Research Center indicate just how fanciful this narrative is. The public’s view of Obama remains, in fact, very favorable across a wide range of characteristics. The conservatives’ extreme views on Obama are just that—extreme—and should in no way be confused with the American people’s views.
In the Pew poll, 83 percent describe Obama as a good communicator, 78 percent describe him as warm and friendly, 70 percent describe him as well informed, 69 percent describe him as well organized, 68 percent describe him as “someone who cares about people like me,” 65 percent say he is a strong leader, 64 percent say he is trustworthy, and 58 percent say he is able to get things done.
Conservatives have also tried to tell the public there is nothing new and different about what Obama has been trying to do. His policy efforts, they say, are nothing more than a cynical power grab designed to expand government. Here they have also failed. In the Pew poll the public says by 63-30 that Obama has a “new approach to politics in Washington” rather than an approach that is “business as usual.”
Evidently conservatives are confusing their own benighted views with those of the general public. I’d like to say that is surprising but based on their past record it’s not.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Culture page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.