Despite the Republican rhetoric on the economic stimulus package, poll after poll from a variety of polling outfits show nearly identical results: a majority of the American people support the plan, while about a third oppose it, since at least late January:
[2/11] 59% FAVOR / 33% OPPOSE
[2/8] 51% GOOD IDEA / 34% BAD IDEA
[2/8] 54% FAVOR / 45% OPPOSE
[2/5] 52% FAVOR / 38% OPPOSE
[2/4] 51% APPROVE / 39% DISAPPROVE
[1/28] 52% FAVOR / 37% OPPOSE
[1/24] 54% SUPPORT / 34% OPPOSE
Well, that’s the case for nearly every polling outfit except Rasmussen:
[2/12] 44% SUPPORT / 40% OPPOSE
[2/4] 37% FAVOR / 43% OPPOSE
[1/29] 42% SUPPORT / 39% OPPOSE
Rasmussen’s polls–at least on this issue–are clearly outliers. He constantly undersamples stimulus support and oversamples stimulus opposition. There are only two conclusions to be drawn here: either everyone else is wrong or Scott Rasmussen is not a reliable pollster.
The way his polls skew isn’t surprising–according to the Center for Public Integrity, Rasmussen received nearly $150,000 from the RNC and the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign. Normally I wouldn’t shoot the messenger on something like this–pollsters have to earn a living somehow–but when your polls produce idiosyncratic results that just happen to serve the political interests of your clients, well, that’s cause for some alarm.
Polls don’t just measure public support, they often play a role in forming it. If you look at conservative blog coverage of the stimulus package you’ll find Rasmussen’s polls quoted all over the place while other polls with contradictory results are ignored. It looks like there’s an effort underway to claim–falsely–that the American people don’t support the stimulus.
Plus, Rasmussen has put out some bizarre surveys like this one:
When it comes to the nation’s economic issues, 67% of U.S. voters have more confidence in their own judgment than they do in the average member of Congress.
Forty-four percent (44%) voters also think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress
Fifty-eight percent (58%) agree, too, that “no matter how bad things are, Congress can always find a way to make them worse.”
This is dangerously close to push-polling. Plus, it doesn’t say anything about whether people actually support the stimulus package. Thinking you could do a better job than your Congressman (who doesn’t think that) or that Congress “can always find a way to make [things] worse” doesn’t tell us if you support or oppose the legislation before Congress.
What that poll does is imply what the opinions of it’s respondents are without ever just asking them outright, which raises a number of red flags in my mind.
Rasmussen’s polls are outliers. By every reasonable measure, the American people support the economic stimulus package, and do so by anywhere from 10% to 20%. As much as conservatives would like to twist the very fabric of reality to change that one simple fact, the truth cannot be buried, not even by an avalanche of untrustworthy, partisan polls.