POLITICS
03/14/2014 06:10 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2014

Obama's 'Between Two Ferns' Appearance Upset Older Americans, Republicans

President Barack Obama's appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the online comedy show hosted by Zach Galifianakis, was viewed by about a quarter of the young Americans the White House was targeting, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.

But older Americans were even more likely to have seen the video -- and they're not happy about it.

Obama's appearance on the interview show was aimed at young people the administration hopes will sign up for health insurance under Obamacare. Overall, 28 percent of Americans said they approved of the interview, 33 percent said they disapproved and 38 percent said they weren't sure.

Similarly, 39 percent said they thought the interview was "a waste of time that should have been spent on more important things," while 25 percent saw it as "an effective way to promote the health care website to young people. Thirty-six percent said they weren't sure.

The lukewarm response to the video may just reflect the fact that many people outside of its target audience ended up seeing it. Those Americans tended to dislike it, while others were more likely to say they simply don't care one way or the other.

About a third of Americans overall said that they saw the video, and a total of 59 percent said they had at least heard about it. But 48 percent of Americans age 65 and older saw it, compared to only 25 percent of Americans age 18-29. Republicans were as likely as Democrats to say they'd seen the video, with 33 percent of each saying they had.

The results suggest that replay on news programs -- some of which were quite critical -- amplified the video's message, but not necessarily to its target audience. Forty-six percent of people who say they "follow what's going on in government and public affairs" most of the time saw it, compared to 22 percent of people who follow "some of the time," 15 percent of people who follow "only now and again," and only 8 percent of those who don't follow the news at all.

Americans age 65 and up were also most likely to give the video negative reviews. Forty-nine percent of respondents in that group said they disapproved of the appearance, while only 25 percent said they approved. Older Americans were also far more likely to see the show as a waste of time than as an effective way to reach young Americans, 53 percent to 24 percent.

In contrast, younger Americans were more likely to approve of the appearance (38 percent) than disapprove (19 percent). They were about as likely to say that it was an effective way to promote HealthCare.gov to young Americans (30 percent) as to say it was a waste of time (26 percent).

The appearance divided Americans along party lines, but Republicans' negative reactions were stronger than Democrats' positive ones.

By a 62 percent to 7 percent margin, Republicans said they disapproved, while Democrats were more likely to approve than disapprove, 47 percent to 13 percent. Independents were more likely to disapprove than approve, 34 percent to 26 percent.

Republicans, of course, were also more likely to disapprove of the president's motivation for doing the interview. Seventy-four percent of Republicans said they disapproved of Obama promoting HealthCare.gov, while 72 percent of Democrats said they approved. Independents were somewhat more likely to disapprove than approve, 46 percent to 39 percent. Overall, Americans were divided 44 percent to 43 percent on whether they approved of Obama promoting the site.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted March 13-14 among 1,000 U.S. adults, including 357 conservatives, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

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