Obama’s and Obamacare’s plunge in polls have media enablers desperately spinning

Obamacare website busyAlternate title: Two polls and a pundit.

First the polls. The latest bad tidings for Barack Obama, his signature legislation, and his legacy come from a poll conducted jointly by USA TODAY/Pew Research Center. The summary at USA TODAY reveals that Millennials, a demographic that was instrumental in electing and reelecting Obama, is now putting distance between themselves, him, and — mostly critically — his health care exchanges.

His job approval rating, which stood at 67% just ahead of his second inauguration less than a year ago, is now at 45%. The numbers are reflective of the president’s diminished standing among the general population. When it comes to Obamacare, the views of 18- to 29-year-olds again mirrors those of the nation as a whole, with 41% of Millennials approving of the law, while 54% disapprove. Here, however, the news is much worse, and Obama knows it. He is acutely aware that without the young and the healthy’s participation in his health insurance misadventure, the whole enterprise will be dead on arrival.

The USA Today authors took the temperature of the group by interviewing representative Millennials. One of them, 23-year-old Kyle Olberding, an Army veteran who works in a candy shop, said he admires Obama for ending the war in Iraq and winding down the war in Afghanistan and credits the president for pursuing a diplomatic solution with Iran over its nuclear program. But he is unhappy with Obama’s efforts on the economy, with reducing the federal budget deficit, and with his implementation of the health care law. He told the paper:

At this current point in my life, I have other things [besides health insurance] that need to be paid for and the extra cost is just not something I can afford right now.

Katrina Meyer, 29, of Indianapolis, said:

He has good intentions but the execution and communication of the health care law came through sloppily. It was a little bit wearing.

The second poll, conducted by the Associated Press-Gfk and reported by Newsmax, finds that 77% of Americans, nearly 4 in 5, say that policies in which they are enrolled through jobs or privately will change next year, mostly for the worse, and they blame it on the Affordable Care Act. Some 69% say their premiums will be rising, while 59% say annual deductibles or copayments are increasing.

Overall the survey found a striking level of unease about the law among people who have health insurance and aren’t looking for government help. Says Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, who tracks public opinion on health care issues:

Rightly or wrongly, people with private insurance looking at next year are really worried about what is going to happen. The website is not the whole story.

The picture looks pretty grim for the administration, but Timothy Noah, who now works for MSNBC after being fired earlier this year by The New Republic(!), whistles past the graveyard with a piece titled “Obama and the Democrats have bounced back.”

After an introductory paragraph acknowledging that Obama’s “approval rating is at or near its nadir,” “the truth,” he writes — suggesting he would know the truth if it bit him — “is, things are actually looking up for the president and his party.” He explains:

Yes, Obama’s approval rating is low, but the good news is that it’s stopped dropping after seven months of decline. And let’s keep that drop in context: Obama’s lowest-ever approval rating still remains higher than that for every president since Gerald Ford.

There’s an epitaph for you: “Here lies Barack Obama. He stunk as president but not as much as other presidents before him from Gerald Ford on.”

Noah is also optimistic that “Republicans aren’t threatening to shut down the government,” that more than twice as many people signed up for Obamacare in November than in October (another possible epitapth?), and the Healthcare.gov website is “no worse than” one Noah uses to cash in frequent flyer miles. Talk about your ringing endorsements. You have to wonder whether Noah, upon receiving his walking papers from TNR, ever thought about knocking on the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and asking for work. His brand of “truth” is the kind they traffic in at that address.

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