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A Gates Effect?

Did President Obama accelerate his public image problems by venturing into the racial politics swirling around Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s arrest in Cambridge?

That's the intriguing contention found in an analysis from the Pew Research Center: in their new poll, Obama's overall approval rating among whites tumbled seven points from just after his press conference last Wednesday through the weekend, as the focus turned increasingly to his handling of the situation. The percentage of whites who "like" the kind of person he is fell by six.

In a callback survey Monday evening, more than twice as many whites disapproved than approved of how Obama was handling the matter (45 percent disapprove, 22 approve, 33 percent don't know).

Of course, many things were shifting in Washington at the tail-end of last week when Pew was interviewing for this poll, but the new numbers are stark, as the Gates story took up nearly a third of total newshole by Friday, according to a separate analysis by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

On health care, the week's still-dominant issue, Obama slipped five points among whites from Wednesday and Thursday nights to Friday and the weekend. On other specific issues, the changes were smaller, or nonexistent.

Another caveat is that Obama's slippage in the polls predates the brouhaha over the Gates incident, with Obama on a downward trajectory for the month. Regardless, among other goals for this evening's beer summit with Gates and arresting officer Sgt. James Crowley, Obama may hope to douse any flames of discontent stoked by his handling of the situation.

By Jon Cohen  |  July 30, 2009; 11:21 AM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Next: Gallup: Three in 10 Already Covered by Government


Frankly, the mistake that Team Obama made these last few weeks is to focus the public’s attention on his healthcare package. They were perfectly content in their “ignorant bliss” up till then, and he had to go and get their attention.

When you’re messing with somebody’s personal business, it’s best not to tell them about it.

Reminds me of the Rumsfeld attributed (actually Jed Babbin) quote … “going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion“. Obama should best leave the accordian at home.

Posted by: warnerme | July 30, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama really stepped in it with this Gates thing. A lot of people really thought this guy was different, the post ractial president.
When the opportunity arose to show that he is the president of the whole country and withhold judgement until he had the facts. He instead chose to instinctively be the black president.

Al Sharpton with a law degree.

Very disappointing.

Posted by: saw1 | July 30, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Throw some gasoline on the fire and let the good times roll while it burns out of control. Sick socialist thugs. You can't shoot them all, you can't live with them either. Let them go broke and wait for Rev. Wright to sermonize the bloody hell in Chicago. It's not like capitalism can be shutoff. They keep trying. Try them. GM, guilty of fraud on a massive scale. The proof is in the numbers. Have fun racketeers. This is worse than Nurenburg, but Fiat is going to fix the Chrysler fraud for them. Who is going to fix the Italian economy? It's not lookin good.

Posted by: Dermitt | July 31, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Emmett Till did nothing but whistle at a white woman. "He loved pranks, he loved fun, he loved jokes... in Mississippi, people didn't think the same jokes were funny." Carolyn Bryant later asserted that Till had grabbed her at the waist and asked her for a date.
White racism started with white males and his 'insecurities' and his fear of white women being sexually active with black men and as a result start producing black/white babies.

That battle has long been lost. President Barack Obama is a product of that fear.

Just as the white racist who gouged out Emmett Till's eye. You are gouging out you're own eyes, by calling everyone else a racist when that's impossible.

Believe it or not, there is only one racist group here in the United States, U.S. history books prove's it.

oh, and stop the inbreeding!

Posted by: opp88 | August 3, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

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