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Conversation Nation / Campaign 2012

Negative Talk About Obama Spikes in Conversation Nation Poll

The trend coincides with more positive chat about Romney.

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking at a campaign event, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in Windham, N.H., at Windham High School.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

photo of Naureen Khan
August 22, 2012

Heading into the Democratic and Republican conventions, a new Conversation Nation poll suggests people are feeling markedly less enamored of their commander in chief.

Negative chatter about President Obama spiked 13 percentage points last week, according to the latest data from the weekly National Journal-Keller Fay Group poll measuring adults’ conversations about politics. That boosted “mostly negative” talk about the president to 45 percent, compared with 31 percent that was mostly positive (a 10-point drop from the week before). It was the second highest percentage of bad-mouthing that Obama has registered since early June, a troubling sign for a president who has stayed competitive in the 2012 race during a painfully sluggish economy in part because of his personal likability.

Positive word of mouth about presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney was on the rise as Obama’s became less positive. The trend toward negative conversations about Obama coincided with Romney running mate Paul Ryan’s first week on the campaign trail, and with Romney’s decision to go on offense against Obama for what he called angry, desperate, and hateful campaign tactics.

 

Negative talk about Romney has consistently outweighed positive talk since early June, but the latest data show that changing: 34 percent of the daily talk about Romney last week was negative on average and 36 percent was positive. If the programming at the GOP convention in Tampa next week does a good job of introducing Romney to voters, those numbers could improve further.

The results from respondents in the Conversation Nation poll suggest that Americans are tuning into the presidential election more as Romney has picked his running mate and the national conventions near. Daily talk about each of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates increased over the last week, with chatter about Ryan peaking at nearly 20 percent on Aug. 18—significantly higher than Joe Biden’s 11.4 percent on the same day. Discussions about Romney, meanwhile, continue to lag behind Obama, but he is closing the gap—on Aug. 19, almost 37 percent of Americans said they had a conversation about the president while 33 percent reported talking about Romney.

Talk relating to the presidential election continues to happen mostly the good old fashioned way—78 percent of the conversations were conducted face-to-face, with only 10 percent on the phone, and an even more paltry 5 percent taking place via the Internet and social media.

National Journal and Keller Fay Group, a survey research firm, have partnered to track Americans’ online and face-to-face conversations about the 2012 presidential race. Each week Keller Fay’s TalkTrack® research service interviews a nationally representative online sample of approximately 615 Americans ages 18 to 69 to determine which candidates and issues people are talking about and the nature of those conversations. Ed Keller and Brad Fay are coauthors of The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace.

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