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What some polling data tell us about why President Obama appeared on “The Colbert Report”

by | Dec 9, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Obamacolbert3Let’s put some polling data together and see what we can glean.

Granted, there are polls that are better for him, but Bloomberg has President Obama’s job approval ratings down 13 points—39% approval, 52% disapproval.

Combine that with last week analysis from Gallup’s Frank Newport who wrote

President Barack Obama’s job approval rating among white non-college graduates is at 27% so far in 2014, 14 percentage points lower than among white college graduates. This is the largest yearly gap between these two groups since Obama took office. These data underscore the magnitude of the Democratic Party’s problem with working-class whites, among whom Obama lost in the 2012 presidential election, and among whom Democratic House candidates lost in the 2014 U.S. House voting by 30 point

(By the way, just so it doesn’t get lost, 27% + 14%= a miniscule 41% approval among white colleges graduates.)

Then, add to that, a further elaboration from Newport today.

President Barack Obama’s job approval rating in 2014 among white 18- to 29-year-olds is 34%, three points higher than among whites aged 30 and older. This is the narrowest approval gap between the president’s previously strong support base of white millennials and older white Americans since Obama took office.

No wonder Real Clear Politics’ Alexis Simendinger penned a column today under the headline, “Why Obama Wanted to Appear on ‘Colbert.'” He’s trying to put at least parts of the band back together again: “President Obama is chasing his political base this week, one media interview at a time,” according to Simendinger, who covers the White House for Real Clear Politics. (Never mind, for now, that he is trying to knit together a coalition that is strikingly narrow in its composition.)

Last night there was Black Entertainment Television (taped on December 5) and The Colbert Report (for young people). Tomorrow Mr. Obama will tape discussions with Telemundo and Univision.

I did take the time to watch (after it first aired) President Obama’s appearance on The Colbert Report. Simendinger aptly summarized the exchange:

With broad, indulgent smiles, plus a straight face for the punch lines, Obama parried with Stephen Colbert during a “Colbert Report” show taped earlier in the day in front of a student audience at George Washington University.

Mr. Obama, who periodically pretends that he will try to work with Republicans who now control both Houses of Congress, showed his real feelings yesterday:

It wasn’t just the joke [“a scripted joke aimed at Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell”] that prompted laughter from the young audience. Obama’s spontaneous smirk conveyed his message.

Categories: Obama