Byron York: Blacks Are Skewing Obama’s Poll Numbers
Black Americans are not a legitimate demographic in Byron York’s view:
On his 100th day in office, Barack Obama enjoys high job approval ratings, no matter what poll you consult. But if a new survey by the New York Times is accurate, the president and some of his policies are significantly less popular with white Americans than with black Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are.
Asked whether their opinion of the president is favorable or unfavorable, 49 percent of whites in the Times poll say they have a favorable opinion of Obama. Among blacks the number is 80 percent. Twenty-one percent of whites say their view of the president is unfavorable, while the number of blacks with unfavorable opinions of Obama is too small to measure.
Those opinion differences are clear in the traditional “right track-wrong track” question, a key indicator of the public’s mood. Thirty-four percent of whites say the country is headed in the right direction, while 56 percent believe it is “seriously off track.” For black Americans, 70 percent say the country is headed in the right direction, with just 23 percent saying it is off track. (According to the U.S. Census, blacks make up about 13 percent of the population, while whites make up about 80 percent. The Times poll divided respondents into black and white, with no other groups reported.)
He goes on and on like that. What he does not tell us is why African Americans’ overwhelming support for Obama mean his overall high approval numbers can’t be taken seriously.
Steve Benen’s scorching response is worth quoting in full:
‘ACTUALLY’…. I’ve read quite a few columns from Byron York over the years, first during his tenure at the National Review, and more recently as the chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner. I’ve seen plenty of commentary I strongly disagree with, but none has offended me quite as much as his latest column.
On his 100th day in office, Barack Obama enjoys high job approval ratings, no matter what poll you consult. But if a new survey by the New York Times is accurate, the president and some of his policies are significantly less popular with white Americans than with black Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are. [emphasis added]
For crying out loud, what the hell does that mean, exactly? I read the rest of the piece, hoping to see York explain why the president’s seemingly popular positions are exaggerated or inflated. Why, in other words, these positions “appear” more popular “than they actually are.”
But all the piece tells me is that African Americans tend to support Obama in greater numbers than white Americans.
The problem, of course, is that damn phrase “than they actually are.” York argues that we can see polls gauging public opinion, but if we want to really understand the popularity of the president’s positions, and not be fooled by “appearances,” then we have to exclude black people.
There’s really no other credible way to read this. York effectively argues that black people shouldn’t count. We can look at polls measuring the attitudes of Americans, but if we want to see the truth — appreciate the numbers as “they actually are” — then it’s best if we focus our attention on white people, and only white people.
Adam Serwer added, “This is another example of a really bizarre genre of conservative writing, which I call ‘If Only Those People Weren’t Here.’”
This is unacceptable.
More reaction at Memeorandum.