It’s worse than I thought.
First off, the methodology is terrible. This was not a scientific poll at all. Harris Interactive did not select people from a random pool. Rather, this poll was answered by people who were clicking answers to questions in order to get free stuff. There’s no basis for this poll meaning anything, therefore.
Second, the poll wording and structure follows the pattern of a push poll. Readers were prompted that people believed certain negative statements about the President, and were given a list of those statements to agree or disagree with.
This is the kind of trick that campaigns use to make negative attacks on a candidate without making it an ad traceable back to the campaign. You read a bunch of negative things about a person, give those things credibility, and plant the seed in people’s minds.
It works sometimes, too, though in this case it’s clear to me the idea was to get a bad result to attempt to discredit the poll takers, rather than the President. But it’s not a fair assessment because they were prompted. I agree with Langer who says:
Harris indeed goes the next step by reporting its results as what its respondents’ “believe” and as opinions they “hold,” as if they themselves came up with these notions, rather than having them one-sidedly set before them on a platter. Call me what you will – and I know it can get nasty out there – but from my perspective, this is not good polling practice.