Accuracy in Media

Gallup and Rasmussen Reports have widely divergent results as to whether the American public supports the upcoming stimulus bill—a gap which seem to stem from whether the polling agency asks if the national “needs” a bill, or what such a bill should actually contain.

According to Gallup, “a majority of Americans (51%) say passing a new economic stimulus plan is ‘critically important’ for improving the nation’s economy, while another 29% say it is important. Only 16% say it is ‘not that important.’”

However, a Rasmussen Reports poll shows that support for the bill also hinges on its contents as well as its passage. “With the Senate poised to vote Tuesday on an $827-billion version of the economic recovery plan, 62% of U.S. voters want the plan to include more tax cuts and less government spending,” reports Rasmusson.

“Just 14% would like to move in the opposite direction with more government spending and fewer tax cuts, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twenty percent (20%) would be happy to pass it pretty much as is, and five percent (5%) are not sure….

Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly want to see more tax cuts and less government spending. Democrats are more evenly divided: 42% agree with the Republicans, 32% want to pass the plan as is, and 22% would like to see more government spending and fewer tax cuts.

Most conservative and moderate voters want to see more tax cuts. A plurality of liberals say the plan should be passed pretty much as it is.”

Gallup writes that the stimulus debate favors Obama due to his wide popularity which, according to the Real Clear Politics average, stands at nearly 62%. In an article entitled “Obama Has Upper Hand in Stimulus Fight” they write that 

“Obama will address the stimulus issue before a nationwide audience on Monday night with his first prime-time news conference. He will also conduct town-hall meetings this week in Elkhart, Ind., and Fort Myers, Fla., as part of his efforts to help sell his view of the urgency of passing a stimulus package. The new Gallup data certainly suggest that these public relations efforts will find a generally receptive audience.

…(Recent Gallup polling also shows that a slight majority of Americans in general favor the idea of passing a stimulus plan of around $800 billion, a sentiment that has stayed constant over the last several weeks.)

….The data in particular show the sharp divide between the public’s views of how Obama has handled efforts to pass a stimulus bill and its views of how the Republicans have handled this—a divide that quantitatively produces a 36-point approval gap.”

Rasmussen agrees, describing the current battle as a “tug-of-war between the popularity of President Obama and the nation’s deeply ingrained reluctance to increase government spending.”

In contrast, Real Clear Politics places the “direction of the country” and “Congressional Job Approval” at dismal lows: 28.5% and 27% approval, respectively.

In other words, political leaders’ success or failure at gaining public support for the stimulus bill may depend largely on whom the public perceives as designing and advocating for the legislation—the President or Congress.

The President will likely be relying on his reputation to push the bill through. According to Fox News reporter Major Garret,

President Obama will keep his ‘foot on the gas pedal’ to get his economic stimulus bill passed as rapidly as possible, senior White House adviser David Axelrod told FOX News in a telephone interview Monday morning.

Axelrod denied the president has lost ground during the up-and-downs of congressional debate on the $800-plus billion spending and tax cut package—the largest single expenditure designed to spur economic growth since the Great Depression.

‘The public polling is still robust for us and for the plan,’ Axelrod said.”

Their evidence: “The Obama White House says a new Gallup survey released Monday showing a 67 percent approval rating for the president’s handling of the stimulus plan indicates the public is sticking with Obama.”

Not exactly.


(Don Irvine blogs about a Politico analysis of the Gallup Poll).

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