Friday, March 13, 2009


The GOP's favorite pollster, Scott Rasmussen, has a Wall Street Journal op-ed today (coauthored with former Mike Bloomberg fluffer Douglas Schoen) entitled "Obama's Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth." I don't have time to pick the whole thing apart, but I'll just comment on a couple of bits of Rasmussen and Schoen's evidence:

When Gallup asked whether we should be spending more or less in the economic stimulus, by close to 3-to-1 margin voters said it is better to have spent less than to have spent more.

I believe that would be this question, from a USA Today/Gallup survey conducted February 20-22 (click to enlarge):

Yes, nearly three times as many people said it would have been better to spend less than more -- but almost exactly as many people said the right amount was spent as said too much was spent! And if you add the people who said the dollar amount was "About Right" to those who said "Better to Spend More," you get a majority. Rasmussen and Schoen's interpretation is preposterous.

There's also this from Rasmussen and Schoen, alluding to the same poll:

Recent Gallup data echo these concerns. That polling shows that there are deep-seeded, underlying economic concerns. Eighty-three percent say they are worried that the steps Mr. Obama is taking to fix the economy may not work and the economy will get worse. Eighty-two percent say they are worried about the amount of money being added to the deficit. Seventy-eight percent are worried about inflation growing, and 69% say they are worried about the increasing role of the government in the U.S. economy.

Let's look at those numbers (again, click to enlarge):

So we have huge majorities in favor of "Funding new government programs to help create jobs," "Giving aid to state governments in serious financial trouble," and "Giving aid to homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure" -- but (in Gallup's own words) "Regardless of whether [respondents] favor or oppose the steps the government has taken in recent months to address economic problems," they have worries about the items Rasmussen and Schoen listed. (R&S get their numbers by adding the "Very Worried" and "Somewhat Worried" numbers in response to the second question group.)

You know what? If I have a life-threatening illness and I need surgery, I'm going to be at least "somewhat worried" about dying on the operating table; depending on the nature of the surgery, I might be "very worried." That doesn't mean I'm anti-surgery. That doesn't mean I've suddenly developed doubts that surgery can often prevent death. It just means I recognize risks.

Sorry to bore you with statistics, but I suspect this op-ed is going to be injected straight into the conventional-wisdom pool by mainstream pundits. It needs to be challenged.

No comments: