By: Byron York
September 10, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder is one of President Obama’s best-known and longest-serving cabinet members. Most recently, he led the administration’s response to the racial unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the Michael Brown killing, launching multiple Justice Department investigations into the police department there.
If the results of a new Wall Street Journal poll are any guide, Holder’s service has not brought him much public approval. The Attorney General was one of a number of people and organizations that Journal pollsters asked respondents to “rate your feelings toward each one as very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative.” Respondents who didn’t recognize a name were encouraged to say so.
Thirty-seven percent of registered voters polled said they did not know who Holder is — not an unusual situation with even high-ranking government officials. But of those who knew Holder, opinion broke down this way: Six percent said they had very positive feelings toward him; nine percent said they had somewhat positive feelings; 16 percent said they were neutral; 10 percent said they had somewhat negative feelings; and 22 percent said they had very negative feelings toward Holder.
Put another way, that’s 32 percent who said they had negative feelings about Holder, versus 15 percent who said they had positive feelings. That 17-point negative gap was the worst of any person or organization measured by the Journal poll, with the exception of the Tea Party, which had a 23-point negative gap. Holder’s negative-to-positive gap was worse than those of Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and even the never-popular Republican Party. (President Obama’s rating was 42 percent positive versus 46 percent negative — a four-point negative gap.)
It’s probably incorrect to say that Holder’s handling of the Ferguson matter has caused his rating to plunge. In fact, the Attorney General’s negative-to-positive ratio was actually a little worse the only other time the Journal has included him in its poll, in June 2013. Back then, Holder’s rating was 32 percent negative versus 10 percent positive — a 22-point negative gap. That’s in Tea Party territory. Still, even with some improvement in the last year, Holder is a long way from positive territory.
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