Matt Drudge posted a screaming headline yesterday: “TODD TURNS: OBAMA ‘OVER.’”
Really? Chuck Todd was abandoning the president, and on MSNBC no less?
Well, not exactly. But a new poll is changing the media narrative on Obama’s second term in a way rarely seen with a single survey.
Is there a media rush to lame-duck land? Maybe. You can never write off a guy who’s got 2-1/2 years left in the Oval Office.
But the president hasn’t been able to buy a good headline for many weeks. VA scandal. Bergdahl. Lost IRS emails. Iraq imploding. And now, this NBC/Wall Street Journal survey.
Obama’s overall approval rate in the survey: 41 percent, a new low for this poll.
More striking, just 37 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy.
Trading Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban terrorists: 44 percent disapprove, 30 percent approve.
And the killer statistic: 54 percent say he’s unable to lead the country and get the job done, compared with 42 percent who believe he can.
Todd, who is NBC’s chief White House correspondent and political director as well as an MSNBC host, called this “a disaster for the president.”
“Essentially the public is saying, ‘Your presidency is over’ by saying a number like that, 54 percent saying he no longer has the ability to lead and solve problems. That’s one of those things, you’re sitting at the White House going, ‘Wow.’”
So Todd is saying the public has turned on Obama. Todd responded to the Drudge headline on Twitter, saying: “Unlike some in blogosphere, I don't insert my opinions either way. So there is no ‘turning.’ I simply report and analyze.”
But that analysis could quickly harden into conventional wisdom.
Brit Hume, Fox’s senior political analyst, put it this way: “I hate to say it, because, you know, I’m an American. I wanted the robust recovery. I wanted a more peaceful world. We don't have. He's failing. I certainly don’t think there’s much question about it. Things I suppose could turn around, but it's hard for me to imagine that the same policies which he seems hesitant to change, are going to bring anything but similar results going forward. So, I think we're looking at a failed presidency.”
Whether that goes too far or not, it’s hard to argue that Obama has accomplished much in his second term. The scandals, in the wake of ObamaCare, have made him look like a hands-off manager. The terrorist gains in Iraq and fading opposition in Syria have made him look tentative abroad. And the economy still isn’t humming. So his numbers are taking a major hit.
There’s some bad news here for the Republicans as well. Only 6 percent of those surveyed have a very positive view of the GOP, and 23 percent somewhat positive. The Democrats clock in at 13 percent very positive and 25 percent somewhat positive. But generic polls in my view are not a great indicator of how congressional elections will turn out.
As for Hillary, her numbers have come down to earth as she is viewed more as a presidential candidate, as opposed to an above-the-fray celebrity. Her favorability is 44-37, but more tellingly for 2016 (and yes it’s absurdly early), 38 percent of registered voters say they would “probably” or be “almost certain” to vote for her, while 37 percent said similarly they would oppose her.
Clinton’s strongest base of support? Women (51 percent positive) and African-Americans (82). And there’s a huge partisan divide: Only 7 percent of Democrats have a negative view of her. But only about one in 10 Republicans have a positive assessment, which puts her in Obama territory.
The polls will bounce around, and at some point Hillary will be measured against a living, breathing Republican. But these results suggest that the media, on the way to declaring Obama toast, should stop treating the coming election as a coronation.
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.