Joe Scarborough claimed that a recent Pew poll "said [President Obama] split the country." However, a Pew official has reportedly stated it is a misreading of the poll to conclude that Obama has "caused this divisiveness."
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During a discussion of President Obama's approval ratings on the April 7 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough claimed a March 9-12 Pew Research Center poll "said [Obama] split the country more than any president in modern history." Scarborough later added, "It's more divisive than ever. I think there is a great separation between the personal affection and trust people have for Barack Obama and these policies. You have Joe Biden trying to push these policies -- they would put him in a penitentiary somewhere." However, Michael Dimock, an associate director at the Pew Research Center, has reportedly stated it is a misreading of the poll to conclude that Obama has "caused this divisiveness."
On April 6, Washington Post Co. blogger Greg Sargent, who conducted an interview with Dimock about the Pew poll, quoted Dimock as saying: "It's unfair to say that Obama has caused this divisiveness or to say that he is a polarizing president." Sargent further reported:
Dimock says the divide is driven by long term trends and by the uncommonly enthusiastic reaction to Obama by members of his own party -- by what he calls "the way Democrats are reacting to Obama." [emphasis in original]
Interestingly, Dimock also said this phenomenon is partly caused by the recent tendency of Republicans to be less charitable towards new Presidents than Dems have been.
The Pew Research Center also stated in its April 2 report about the poll result that "[t]he growing partisan divide in presidential approval ratings is part of a long-term trend. Going back in time, partisanship was far less evident in the early job approval ratings for both Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon."
From the April 7 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): And I think there's a lot of questions being raised about this, at least, on this platform that we have here, and others as well. And yet, his approval --
SCAROBORUGH: Which ones?
BRZEZINSKI: The president's approval rating is --
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN (New York Times columnist): Approval rating on the economy is unbelievable.
BRZEZINSKI: -- the latest one -- it's unbelievable.
BRZEZINSKI: And then if you look at this number, 70 percent of people are concerned they will be out of work within a year, so you've got this high approval rating for this president, and yet an underlying fear that doom and gloom is coming.
SORKIN: Part of that, though, has to be -- and I would just love to go back and look at what these numbers were, these poll numbers were a month or two ago -- what I -- what people are now calling the Obama index --
SORKIN: -- where people look and they look at the stock market, they say, "We're up 25 percent since this man got into office." And so, I think people are encouraged by that. You know, when the market was, you know, at 6,800, there might have been a different view, and I just don't know.
SCARBOROUGH: We'll see.
BRZEZINSKI: Stay with us, will you?
SORKIN: I'll try.
SCARBOROUGH: A Pew poll that was out yesterday had his approval rating at 59 --
SCARBOROUGH: -- percent and said he split the country more than any president in modern history. I don't know that we brought that up yesterday or not. So, I just felt that we would point it out today.
BRZEZINSKI: Ah, yeah, we brought it up several times because I think it's interesting.
SCARBOROUGH: Did we, Willie?
WILLIE GEIST (co-host): I can't --
BRZEZINSKI: No, it's interesting to mention --
GEIST: Do we have that, Pete?
BRZEZINSKI: -- because that's a political -- it's Republicans and Democrats and how they feel about this president and its historic lows in terms of divisiveness --
SCARBOROUGH: You know --
BRZEZINSKI: -- right? Or highs.
BRZEZINSKI: Highs. Sorry.
SCARBOROUGH: It's more divisive than ever. I think there is a great separation between the personal affection and trust people have for Barack Obama and these policies. You have Joe Biden trying to push these policies -- they would put him in a penitentiary somewhere. Seriously --
BRZEZINSKI: That's an interesting point.
SCARBOROUGH: -- because this is a radical departure from American economics. Barack Obama can sell it in a way that no other Democratic politician could.
BRZEZINSKI: I totally agree with that.