Of the three morning shows, only ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday highlighted just how quickly and severely Barack Obama’s approval ratings have fallen. In a report on the subject, correspondent Jake Tapper bluntly explained, "Since taking office, President Obama's approval ratings have fallen more steeply than any other newly-elected president in modern history."
In contrast, CBS’s Early Show charted the middle ground in a segment on the network’s new poll. Correspondent Bill Plante observed that Obama has lost some popularity over health care, but spun: "The latest CBS News poll shows that approval of the President’s handling of health care reform has slipped six points since July, even though his overall job rating for that period is down only slightly."
Tapper, however, pointed out that, on balance, Obama’s approval numbers are unimpressive. He starkly noted, "Currently at 50 percent job approval on the Gallup daily tracking poll, if President Obama dips any lower before November, his would be the second-fastest drop below majority approval of any elected president since World War II." The Early Show and NBC’s Today both have failed to mention such pertinent facts.
Tapper hammered home the point by adding, "Even Democrats are begging the President to improve his game on health care reform." An ABC graphic wondered, "The Obama Slide? Is President's Popularity Dropping?"
Tapper also provided a fair note of caution, stating that, at this point in his presidency, George H.W. Bush’s approval was at 73 percent. He, of course, was not reelected.
A transcript of the September 2 segment, which aired at 7:06am EDT, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: But now, to President Obama and his falling poll numbers. A new poll shows his approval rating falling farther than any newly-elected president in history. Our senior Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper, has the latest from the White House. Good morning, Jake.
ABC GRAPHIC: The Obama Slide? Is President’s Popularity Dropping?
JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, Robin. Well, White House aides say President Obama may give a speech in which he tries to grab all of the different strands of health care reform legislation on Capitol Hill and make one, big, comprehensive push. They say we're in a new phase of the health care reform debate because Republicans have walked away from the negotiating table. They know the President needs to improve his poll numbers on this issue in order to get his agenda through. Since taking office, President Obama's approval ratings have fallen more steeply than any other newly-elected president in modern history.
MARK K. UPDEGROVE (Presidential historian) This was this great goodwill that we saw with President Obama. It was bound to decline, given the enormous burdens he faced as a President, shortly into his term.
TAPPER: One of those challenges, the sputtering economy. President Reagan, the last president to take office in the teeth of a recession, fell from 73 percent approval in the spring of 1981, to 48 percent by the next February. Adding to Obama's problems are an increasingly unpopular war in Afghanistan and his own struggles with health care reform.
UPDEGROVE: Health care reform has been a vexing issue for all modern presidents. For those few old enough to address it, it's more often than not been an albatross.
TAPPER: Even Democrats are begging the President to improve his game on health care reform.
SENATOR CHRIS DODD (D-CONN): I think the President has got to decide, in a sense, and he has, to step up and frame this again for us.
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D-New York): I think that, frankly, the President and the White House, have not done a stellar job on messaging this.
TAPPER: Currently at 50 percent job approval on the Gallup daily tracking poll, if President Obama dips any lower before November, his would be the second-fastest drop below majority approval of any elected president since World War II. Behind only Bill Clinton, who fell below 50 percent approval only four months into his presidency, because of controversies such as Travelgate and issues such as gays in the military. The long-term implications of President Obama’s precipitous slide are up in the air. At this point in his term, then-President George H.W Bush was at a high 73 percent approval. And he was not re-elected. George W. Bush was at 61 percent and had the most unpopular second term on record. Asked for comment about the poll numbers, a White House official tells ABC News, if we only did what was popular in polls, the banks would have failed, there would be no domestic automakers and we’d pull all our troops out of Afghanistan tomorrow. But none of those decisions would be in the economic or national security interests of the United States. Robin?