THE BLOG
09/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Health care and the Ratings

If one believes, as I do, that people watch television news when they're pleased with the news and avoid it when it displeases them, last week wasn't a good week for the President's health care bill. You must also accept as fact that FoxNews viewers tend to detest Obama's bill, while CNN and MSNBC viewers tend to support it. If you accept both of the above propositions, the indications are popular support for the health care bill is waning.

In primetime, FoxNews had 33% more viewers than MSNBC and CNN combined. Among 18-49 year olds, Fox beat the other two by almost 20%, and with older viewers, 25-54s, Fox was 29% ahead of their combined competitors. In total day, total audience, Fox had 30% more viewers than the CNN/MSNBC total. In 18-49s, Fox had a 27% edge, and in 25-54s, Fox won by almost 22%. To my recollection, this is the biggest lead that FoxNews has ever had over the other two networks since I started doing this almost a decade ago. Health care seems to be the topic of the day, the week, the month and maybe the rest of the year.

I hasten to make clear that the huge Fox lead does not mean that between 20% and 30% of Americans do not want a health care bill. It means that Republican opponents of the bill have been far more effective than Democrats in getting their message across. The Obama people seem lost in a jumble of their varying points of view in contradictory statements. Republicans have adopted a simple, no-no-never strategy that that is readily understandable and that seems to have convinced conservatives and independents that this health care bill, whatever it is, is not worthy of their support.

In short, if Obama and his people want to get a health care bill out of this Congress, they better get their act together. Even liberals are too embarrassed to watch the Democrats' lame TV efforts as they struggle to get their health care message across.