Friday, April 03, 2009


Noonan today, citing a March 13 Wall Street Journal editorial by pollsters Douglas Schoen and Scott Rasmussen (emphasis mine):

... in this paper, the pollsters Douglas Schoen and Scott Rasmussen said the American people "are coming to expressing increasingly significant doubts about [President Obama's] initiatives," and placed the president's approval rating at 56%, "with substantial polarization."

That last qualification certainly sounds true. So does the assertion that there's a gulf between the president's popularity and the popularity of his programs. Messrs. Schoen and Rasmussen had 83% of respondents saying his programs will not work, 82% saying they're worried about the deficit, 78% worried about inflation, and 69% worried about the increasing role of the government in the economy.

Er, no. Messrs. Schoen and Rasmussen did not say "will not work." Here's what they said (again, emphasis mine):

Recent Gallup data echo these concerns. That polling shows that there are deep-seated, 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.

And they get that from a late-February Gallup poll by adding the number of people who are "very worried" or "somewhat worried" regardless of whether they favor the programs:

Meanwhile, the same poll showed that 83% of respondents favored "Funding new government programs to help create jobs," 67% favored "Giving aid to state governments in serious financial trouble," and 64% favored "Giving aid to homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure."

Noonan's switch to "will not work" is what I've called in the past "truth creep" -- a seemingly minor tweak of the truth that significantly changes the truth to a lie, for ideological reasons. Nice work, Peg.

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