Looking dashing this morning with his newly-grown beard, famed pollster Frank Luntz told Imus that the public, in general, does not trust people with facial hair.
"It's been a century since we've had a President with any kind of facial hair," said Luntz. The last two were Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft in the early 1900s.
Unlike most people Luntz polled about their 2009 experience, Imus and Charles said they were better off today than one year ago. "But only because of Fox," Imus stipulated.
More than 60 percent of Americans say they are worse off today, which is uncharacteristic at the beginning of a new year, normally a time of "hope, rebirth, and new beginnings," said Luntz.
"Last year, more people said 'good riddance' to 2009 than any year since 2001," he reported. However, Luntz considers the responses of middle class Americans, people with individual yearly incomes between $30-60,000, to be the most indicative.
"They were the most pessimistic of anyone in the end of 2008 into 2009," he said. "They do believe now that 2010 will be a better year."
What that means, he added, is that they'll spend more and be more economically aggressive. "That's how the economy gets started," Luntz said.
He predicted the back half of 2010 would be similar to 2007, but does not think the country will ever be like it was in 1998. "We've lost faith in the stock market, we've lost faith in Wall Street," he said. In addition, polling shows people do not trust CEOs, or anybody in Washington, DC.
Imus chalked that up to President Obama having broken almost every promise he made during his campaign. "I think, in a way, he's done more harm to the political situation and the way people feel in this country than any of the other clowns, including the bad George Bush," said Imus.
Luntz agreed, and highlighted Obama's unique, and perhaps squandered, opportunity to transcend partisanship and bring everybody together. "People really wanted him to succeed," said Luntz. "Even those who didn't vote for him."
Yet, in Imus's view, Obama has done a tremendous amount to improve race relations, a point Luntz's polling confirms. "Under age 30, people don't see race anymore," he said. Thus, should Obama fail, the consensus would be that it had nothing to do with his race.
"The more you break down the stereotypes, the more the country can move on into issues that affect us," Luntz said. "It's not white-black-Latino; it's not rich-poor. Either we are going to succeed as a country together, or we're going to fail as a country together."
And we'll do it whether Luntz retains his facial hair, or whether the higher-ups at Fox make him shave.