July 19, 2009 - July 25, 2009



Topics: Outliers Feature

Ron Brownstein digs deep into the Allstate/National Journal Heartland poll; more from Will Englund and Jennifer Skalka

The Pew Global Attitudes project launches an interactive database of attitude trends in 55 countries.

Barack Obama explains dropping poll numbers.

Gary Langer reviews the data on experience with racial discrimination.

Jennifer Agiesta notes Obama's high marks as commander-in-chief.

Chris Cillzza focuses on Palin's conservative Republican favorable rating.

Mike Huckabee notes that he's leading Palin.

Mark Mellman finds consistent support for the public health paln.

Gary Andres sees Republicans improving their numbers on health care.

Jim Hobart and Glen Bolger says voters are wary of Obama's spending.

Paul Mirengoff ponders Obama's Rasmussen approval at 49%.

Tom Jensen says Obama is mostly losing support among moderate Republicans, but not his base.

Jonathan Singer sees a leveling off of Obama's favorable among independents.

The Pew Research Center profiles Generation Next.

Peter Orzag announces Data.gov breaking the 100k mark; Nancy Scola quibbles.

Research Rants likes exclamation points! A lot!

US: Health Care (Gallup 7/23)

7/23/09; 1,027 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Gallup story)


When it comes to health care reform legislation now being considered in Congress, what would you advise your representative in Congress to do?

41% Pass this year
30% Pass, but not necessarily this year
24% Not pass at all

New Chart: Obama Approval on Health Care

As President Obama and Congress look to be headed into extended negotiations on health care legislation, we've added a new chart tracking President Obama's job approval on health care, which joins our charts of Obama's job approval on the economy and foreign policy, and of course our original Obama approval chart. You can find all our national trends here and our state-by-state trends here.

Have a suggestion for a new national trend or a state you'd like to see added next? Leave a comment or e-mail us.

Nyhan: The Collapse of Sarah Palin

Today's guest pollster contribution comes from Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan. This entry is cross-posted at his blog, Brendan-Nyhan.com.

The Washington Post is reporting that a new ABC/WP poll shows a major decline in Sarah Palin's favorability ratings. Her favorables have dropped from a peak of 58% after the GOP convention in September to 40% now, while her unfavorables have surged from a low of 28% to 53% now. Her 40/53 favorable-unfavorable ratio puts her into Hillary/Bush/Cheney territory as one of the most polarizing figures in American politics -- quite an achievement for someone who was a completely unknown less than a year ago.

It's almost impossible to imagine Palin getting the GOP nomination in 2012 at this point (though Intrade still puts the probability at 16%). With numbers like that, her general election prospects are dim, and the Post poll shows growing doubts about her among Republicans as well:

Republicans and GOP-leaning independents continue to rank Palin among the top three contenders in the run-up to 2012, however, with 70 percent of Republicans viewing her in a positive light in the new poll. But her support within the GOP has deteriorated from its pre-election levels, including a sharp drop in the number holding "strongly favorable" impressions of her.

And while Palin's most avid following is still among white evangelical Protestants, a core GOP constituency, and conservatives, far fewer in these groups have "strongly favorable" opinions of her than did so last fall.

...Perhaps more vexing for Palin's national political aspirations, however, is that 57 percent of Americans say she does not understand complex issues, while 37 percent think she does, a nine-percentage-point drop from a poll conducted in September just before her debate with now-Vice President Biden. The biggest decline on the question came among Republicans, nearly four in 10 of whom now say she does not understand complex issues. That figure is 70 percent among Democrats and 58 percent among independents.

Her favorability numbers also stack up extremely poorly against the rest of the expected 2012 field, as this graph illustrates:


The candidates are ordered left to right by their favorable-unfavorable ratio in the most recent poll on Pollingreport.com. As you can see, Palin's numbers are even worse than Newt Gingrich (!) -- the other highly polarizing candidate -- and she has less room to change her image because so many Americans already have an impression of her. By contrast, Romney, Huckabee, Jindal, and Pawlenty start the race without that sort of baggage and are therefore much more likely to make a serious run for the nomination.

To be sure, it's not impossible to come back from numbers like Palin's. Hillary Clinton overcame numbers that were nearly as bad and almost won the Democratic presidential nomination, but she did so with a great deal of hard work and discipline -- qualities that Palin appears to lack. Runner's World photo spreads, feuds with David Letterman, and useless policy op-eds are not going to turn her image around anytime soon.

CA: Boxer 45 Fiorina 41 (Rasmussen 7/22)

7/22/09; 500 likely voters; 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR

(Rasmussen results)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 57 / 43 (chart)
Gov. Schwartzenegger: 38 / 60 (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Sen. Boxer: 50 / 47 (chart)
Carly Fiorina: 30 / 35

2010 Senate
Boxer 45%, Fiorina 41% (trends)

US: National Survey (AllState 7/5-12)

AllState / National Journal / Heartland Monitor
7/5-12/09; 1,202 adults; 2.8% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

(National Journal: story, results, Ron Brownstein column)


State of the Country
38% Right Direction, 50% Wrong Track (chart)
Economy: 38% Right Direction, 52% Wrong Track

Obama Approval
56% Approve, 36% Disapprove (chart)

In general, would you say the best way to increase opportunity for you comes from...

40% Your own efforts, like doing a good job, increasing your skills, and obtaining more education
22% Government policies that try to create economic growth by reducing taxes, reducing regulations on businesses and making it easier for people to start and operate small businesses
17% Private sector companies that are well-managed, innovative, and good at identifying and investing in talented workers
16%Government policies that try to create economic growth by investing in new technologies and industries and funding programs to train people to work in these new industries

US: Palin, 2012 Pres (ABC/Post 7/15-18)

ABC News / Washington Post
7/15-18/09; 1,001 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Post: story, results, ABC: story, results)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Sarah Palin: 40 / 53 (chart)

2012 President: Republican Primary

Huckabee 26%
Romney 21%
Palin 19%
Gingrich 10%
Pawlenty 4%
Jeb Bush 3%
Jindal 2%
Barbour 1%

US: National Survey (FOX 7/21-22)

FOX News / Opinion Dynamics
7/21-22/09; 900 registered voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

(Fox News release)


Obama Job Approval
54% Approve, 38% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 86 / 8 (chart)
inds: 54 / 36 (chart)
Reps: 17 / 75 (chart)
Economy: 50 / 43 (chart)
Health Care: 43 / 45

Congress Job Approval
30% Approve, 60% Disapprove (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Obama: 62 / 33 (chart)
Palin: 38 / 51 (chart)
Pelosi: 29 / 47

Party ID
40% Democrat, 34% Republican, 20% independent (chart)

Based on what you know about the health care reform legislation being
considered right now, do you favor or oppose the plan?

36% Favor, 47% Oppose

Selzer Polling for Bloomberg

Topics: Bloomberg , J. Ann Selzer , LA Times/Bloomberg

A bit of inside baseball from the polling world: Today, Bloomberg News released its first of what it promises will be quarterly "global surveys" of the "economic, financial and and political attitudes" of the "influential investors and analysts" that subscribe to the Bloomberg Professional service. In other words, a survey of its customers.   

The happy news is that the new pollster for Bloomberg News is J. Ann Selzer of Selzer & Company, the firm that rose in prominence following their much heralded polling of likely Iowa caucus goers for the Des Moines Register. Selzer also conducts surveys for the Detroit Free Press and The Indianapolis Star/WTHR.

A press release announcing the new survey says that Selzer "will also be conducting other U.S. surveys for Bloomberg News during 2009, focusing on financial and economic issues and trends." Regular readers will remember that Bloomberg News conducted national surveys in recent years in partnership with the now defunct Los Angeles Times poll.

Global: US Image (Pew 5/18-6/16)

Pew Global
5/18-6/16/09, 27,000 adults in 24 nations and the Palestinian territories
Mode: Live telephone interviews, face-to-face interviews

(Pew release)



"The image of the United States has improved markedly in most parts of the world, reflecting global confidence in Barack Obama. In many countries opinions of the United States are now about as positive as they were at the beginning of the decade before George W. Bush took office. Improvements in the U.S. image have been most pronounced in Western Europe, where favorable ratings for both the nation and the American people have soared. Opinions of America have also become more positive in key countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. However, the U.S. image has moved little in many of the most problematic parts of the world, where deep concerns continue about U.S. policy and role in the world despite the president's popularity."

NC: 2012 Gov (Civitas 7/14-17)

Civitas Insitute (R)
7/14-17/09; 600 registered voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Civitas: 2012 release, Perdue Approval release)

North Carolina

Favorable / Unfavorable
Gov. Perdue: 30 / 44

If the election for governor were held today, would you vote to re-elect Bev Perdue?
26% Yes, 55% No

2012 Governor
McCrory 46%, Perdue 32%

CT: Simmons 48 Dodd 39 (Quinnipiac 7/16-20)

7/16-20/09; 1,499 registered voters,2.5% margin of error
612 Democrats, 4% margin of error
384 Republicans, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Quinnipiac: Rell Approval release, 2010 Senate release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Rell: 65 / 30 (chart)
Sen. Lieberman: 46 / 46 (chart)
Sen. Dodd: 42 / 52 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 63 / 32 (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Dodd (D): 40 / 50 (chart)
Rob Simmons (R): 39 / 12
Sam Caligiuri (R): 12 / 4
Merrick Alpert (D): 3 / 1
Tom Foley (R): 17 / 5
Peter Schiff (R): 7 / 3

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
Dodd 52%, Alpert 18% (trends)

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
Simmons 42% Foley 5%, Caligiuri 5% (trends)

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
Simmons 48%, Dodd 39% (chart)
Dodd 42%, Caligiuri 40%
Dodd 42%, Foley 42%
Dodd 43%, Schiff 38%

Minnesota Charts Up

We now have the following Minnesota ratings and 2010 election charts available:

2010 Governor: All Head-to-Head Matchups
Barack Obama: Favorable Rating, Job Approval
Tim Pawlenty: Favorable Rating, Job Approval
Amy Klobuchar: Job Approval
Al Franken: Favorable Rating

Additional Minnesota charts will be added as data becomes available. We now have up-to-date charts available for 16 states and our National Trends. We'll also be adding additional charts in the coming months -- if you have suggestions for which state we should add next or national trends you'd like to see charted, leave a comment or e-mail us.

Nyhan: 'Of Course' Obama's Approval is Dropping

Topics: Approval Ratings , Barack Obama , Brenden Nyhan

Political scientist Brenden Nyhan blogs one of those helpful reality checks for those of us a bit too obsessed with the daily twitches in President Obama's approval ratings:

That's why it's amusing to see so many people acting like it's news that approval of President Obama's handling of health care and overall job performance numbers are trending downward (particularly among independents and Republicans). Of course his numbers are going down! It's been a virtual certainty that this transition would take place since the day Obama took office. The only question was when it would happen and how far down they would go.

The reason is simple. Presidential approval tends to decline after the honeymoon period as the opposition party begins to be more critical of the president. These messages remind opposition party members and sympathetic independents why they dislike the president. As a result, his approval numbers go down. This decline was likely to be especially significant in Obama's case because his initial Gallup approval levels were the highest for any president since JFK.

He goes on to argue that the "same reasoning applies" to the much discussed declines in Obama's health approval ratings. Read his full post for the details.

It's also helpful to examine the historical data Nyhan has in mind, via the graphic below that was originally created by our colleague Charles Franklin. Presidential approval does tend to decline in the first 20 months (the first blue grid line), but not always.  Of course, the relatively small "sample size" and the inconsistency in the approval trends underscores Nyhan's equally important caveat about the uncertainty over "when" Obama's numbers would decline and "how far down" they will go.


I have no quarrel with his nitpick of my July 13 column, particularly the point that it's hard to identify "one factor as the cause of Obama's decline." Still, I think the case is strong that bad economic news is the biggest factor in the timing of the recent declines. As such, the historical comparison that has most intrigued me is with the approval ratings of Ronald Reagan in 1981 and 1982. Reagan's approval numbers did jump upward very early in his term following the Hinckley assassination attempt in late March 1981, but his approval numbers proceeded to slide during his first two years of office along with worsening economic news. Reagan's numbers started their rebound as the economic news improved during 1983 and 1984.


I created the chart above. which superimposes Obama's early job approval trend with Reagan's, using the USA Today presidential approval tracker. Keep in mind that it plots only historical polls from Gallup and only the USA Today/Gallup poll approval numbers for Obama (not the Gallup Daily tracking).

US: National Survey (ARG 7/17-20)

American Research Group
7/17-20/09; 1,100 adults, 2.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(ARG release)


Obama Approval
52% Approve, 44% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 47 / 47 (chart)
Dems: 84 / 11 (chart)
Reps: 9 / 88 (chart)
inds: 46 / 52 (chart)

State of the Economy
26% Getting better, 38% Getting worse (chart)

Party ID
37% Democrat, 26% Republican, 28% independent (chart)

US: Health Care (Gallup June)

Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
June 2009; 29,000 adults, 1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Gallup release)


Do you have health insurance?
84% Yes, 16% No

US: Health Care (Rasmussen 7/20-21)

7/20-21/09; 1000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: IVR

(Rasmussen release)


Generally speaking, do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and the congressional Democrats?

44% Favor, 54% Oppose

LA: 2012 Pres (PPP 7/17-19)

Public Policy Polling (D)
7/17-19/09; 727 registered voters, 3.6% margin of error
Mode: IVR

(PPP release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 44 / 50 (chart)
Gov. Jindal: 55 / 38 (chart)
Sen. Landrieu: 43 / 43

Favorable / Unfavorable
Sarah Palin: 46 / 42

2012 President
Jindal 54%, Obama 40%
Palin 49%, Obama 42%

GA: 2010 Gov (SVision 7/17-19)

Strategic Vision
7/17-19/09; 800 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Strategic Vision release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Perdue: 51 / 38
Sen. Chambliss: 48 / 39
Sen. Isakson: 54 / 37
Pres. Obama: 40 / 52

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Oxendine 38%, Deal 16%, Handel 9%, Johnson 5%, McBerry 3%, Scott 2%

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
Barnes 46%, Baker 31%, Poythress 4%, Porter 3%

NJ: Christie 53 Corzine 38 (SVision 7/17-19)

Strategic Vision
7/17-19/09; 800 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Strategic Vision release)

New Jersey

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 50 / 40 (chart)
Gov. Corzine: 35 / 55 (chart)
Sen. Menendez: 51 / 38 (chart)
Sen. Lautenberg: 48 / 42 (chart)

2009 Governor
Christie 53%, Corzine 38%, Daggett 5% (chart)

PA: 2010 Sen (Quinnipiac 7/14-19)

7/14-19/09; 1,173 registered voters, 2.9% margin of error
511 Republican voters, 4.3% margin of error
512 Democratic voters, 4/3% margin of error

(Quinnipiac release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Arlen Specter (D): 45 / 44 (chart)
Pat Toomey (R): 34 / 10
Joe Sestak (D): 23 / 7
Peg Lukisk (R): 13 / 5

Job Approval / Disapproval
Sen. Specter: 47 / 46 (chart)
Sen. Casey: 53 / 25 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 56 / 37 (chart)

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
Specter 55%, Sestak 23% (chart)

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
Toomey 47%, Luksik 6% (trends)

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
Specter 45%, Toomey 44% (chart)
Toomey 39%, Sestak 35%
Specter 47%, Luksik 40%
Sestak 39%, Luksik 30%

US: National Survey (AP-Gfk 7/16-20)

7/16-20/09; 1,006 adults, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(AP/Gfk release)


State of the Country
40% Right Direction, 54% Wrong track (chart)

Obama Approval
55% Approve, 42% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 50 / 46 (chart)
Health Care: 50 / 43

Congress Job Approval
32% Approve, 63% Disapprove (chart)

Party ID
34% Democrat, 23% Republican, 40% independent (chart)

Congratulatory 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Gallup shows Obama approval trending downward in the second quarter, but still "exceeding the historical averages" for presidents since Truman.

USA Today produces an interactive graphic allowing historical comparisons of Gallup's job approval numbers.

Gabriel Winant has more on how Obama compares to past presidents (via Tucker).

Giovanni Russonello finds 40% support for Sotomayor among conservatives (more from Agiesta, Cillizza).

Karlyn Bowman looks broadly at public opinion on the Supreme Court.

Jennifer Agiesta digs deeper into Obama's shrinking approval on health care.

Steve Benen ponders what the ABC/Post health care approval numbers do not say.

Ed Kilgore thinks the Democrats '94 defeat was about more than health care.

PPP sees a Republican lean to independents.

Ruy Teixeira argues that demographic shifts spell the end of the culture wars (with more in an interview by Tom Schaller).

John Sides links to a paper showing that income does not affect attitudes about free trade.

Norman Geras asks whether policy makers should heed polling results in the conduct of a war (via Appel).

Richard Wolffe says Obama's internal polls show him doing "really well" in Michigan.

Justin Miller wants Ron Paul included in GOP 2012 horse-race polls.

And our best to Margie and Julian!

US: Health Care (RWJ June 09)

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, U of Michigan, U of Minnesota
June 2009, 500 households
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(RWJF: release, survey methodology, AP: story)


"Americans believe health reform is an important part of addressing the nation's economic crisis. More than 8 in 10 people (84.7%) believe that it is important for President Obama to reform the health care system as a step in solving the nation's economic woes."

Health Reform: Which 'Costs' Are We Talking About?

Topics: Health Care Reform

In my ongoing discussion on poll questions that push respondents to choose between reducing health care costs and increasing access to health insurance, I neglected this bit of helpful reporting from my colleague Marc Ambinder:

Earlier this year, the White House decided to base its health care messaging on the concept of cost -- the current system was unsustainable and wasteful. They did not focus their argument on access, which appeals to people without access but doesn't do much for people with insurance, or about quality, which is complex and not intuitively helpful for Democrats. Maybe the price of doing business with the insurance company was to focus on costs. Maybe they overcorrected from the Clinton model in 1994, which focused on "health security."

"We tried access and quality, with a tad of moral imperative, once before and it didn't work out so well. Its difficult no matter how you slice it," a senior Senate aide told me. A White House adviser conceded that "access is killer, no matter how you poll it."

While I cannot react to polling data we cannot see, this conclusion presumably reflects some sort of message testing, and not just the forced-choice variety of question I critiqued yesterday and last Friday. One thing that quickly gets confused in this discussion, however, is the kinds of "costs" we are talking about.

When Americans tell pollsters they want health care reform to focus on "costs" they usually mean their actual, out-of-pocket health care expenses: insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, the costs of prescription drugs and any other medical bills not covered by health insurance.

The survey I linked to yesterday, sponsored by the labor-business coalition known as America's Agenda, included a test** of measures to "reduce costs" that speaks directly to these kinds of out-of-pocket expenses (emphasis added):

Now I would like to read you a proposal that is being considered to reform health care. This proposal aims to reduce costs and improve quality of health care in the following ways: make health coverage more affordable and accessible for all Americans; eliminate co-pays and deductibles for recommended chronic disease treatment prescribed by your doctor; eliminate co- pays and deductibles for recommended preventive services and emphasize disease prevention including reducing obesity and smoking; ensure that doctors have accurate and updated information on the most effective treatments; and ensure that patients receive highly-coordinated, personalized treatment plans based on the latest medical evidence.

While the America's Agenda poll did not test this proposal against alternatives, I would not be surprised to see Americans with health insurance react more positively to it than anything else we could dream up, especially if the alternative is framed in terms of providing "access" to those presently uninsured (in other words, to somebody else).

When policy makers have talked about the "concept of costs" in recent months, however, the focus has been much different. At best, the discussion focuses on issues affecting the larger health care system (e.g. systemic "cost containment" or how to "bend the health care cost curve"). At worse, it focuses on the price tag for the health reform proposal itself. But either way, the discussion is removed from the every-day expenses faced by those with insurance.

Most Americans are not following this debate closely (only 24% told the Pew Research Center in June that they are following it "very closely"). Those that are have heard about a trillion-dollar-plus reform package and talk about taxing health care benefits or finding other forms of tax revenue to pay for it. And then there's the fierce debate about whether those remote, systematic changes will really "bend the curve." Put it all together, and it is easy to see why Americans are not responding to all the recent "messaging" on costs the way they do to the benefits promised by America's Agenda poll question, why they may doubt that reform will really bring down their own out-of-pocket costs.

Lost in all of this process coverage, of course, is discussion of the tangible benefits to individuals. Yes, as Mickey Kaus argues, "it's possible to take polls that show something very different" about whether costs matter most (see also, again, my column and previous posts on this subject). But in crafting a strategy, it is also important to consider more than just which paragraph gets the most positive response on a survey.  A strategist needs to think about how the poll-tested arguments might translate into the reality of the legislative process and the way the media covers it.

**Update: America's Agenda has also posted a filled-in questionnaire as well as a video and powerpoint of the presentations by pollsters Celinda Lake (D) and Bill McInturff. 

LA: 2010 Sen (PPP 7/17-19)

Public Policy Polling (D)
7/17-19/09; 727 registered voters, 3.6% margin of error
Mode: IVR



Favorable / Unfavorable
Sen. Vitter: 44 / 39
Charlie Melancon: 26 / 32

Job Approval / Disapproval
Vitter: 44 / 36

2010 Senate
Vitter 44%, Generic Democrat 38%
Vitter 44%, Melancon 32%

US: Obama Approval (Gallup 7/17-19)

USA Today / Gallup
7/17-19/09; 1,006 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Approval: USA Today article, Gallup release, Spending: Gallup release)


Obama Approval
55% Approve, 41% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 47 / 49 (chart)
Foreign Affairs: 57 / 38 (chart)
Health care: 44 / 50

Obama's Proposals:

59% Call for too much spending
27% Call for about the right amount of spending
11% Call for too little spending

US: Public Trust (Politico 7/9-12)

Politico / Public Strategies Inc.
7/9-12/09; 1,000 registered voters, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Internet



How much do you trust each of the following individuals or institutions to identify the right solutions to the problems that we face as a nation?

Obama: 54% Trust, 42% Do not trust
Pelosi: 24 / 58
U.S. Congress: 36 / 60
Palin: 35 / 57
Romney: 32 / 41
The Democratic Party: 42 / 53
The Republican Party: 36 / 57

Party ID
30% Democrat, 21% Republican 40% independent

US: Sotomayor (ABC/Post 7/15-18)

ABC News / Washington Post
7/15-18/09; 1,001 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Post: story, results, ABC: story)


Do you think the U.S. Senate should or should not confirm Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court?

58% Should, 30% Should not

PA: 2010 Gov (Quinnipiac 7/14-19)

7/14-19/09; 1,173 registered voters, 2.9% margin of error
511 Republicans, 4.3% margin of error
512 Democrats, 4.3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



Favorable / Unfavorable
Jim Gerlach (R): 16 / 6
Dan Onorato (D): 16 / 6
Jack Wagner (D): 18 / 4
Tom Knox (D): 10 / 4
Tom Corbett (R): 38 / 6
Pat Meehan (R): 12 / 3

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Rendell 39 / 53 (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
Onorato 16%, Wagner 16%, Knox 13%

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Corbett 38%, Gerlach 15%, Meehan 9%

2010 Governor: General Election
38% Generic Republican, 37% Generic Democrat

US: Sotomayor (Gallup 7/17-19)

USA Today / Gallup
7/17-19/09; 1,006 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



Would you like to see the Senate vote in favor of Sotomayor serving on the Supreme Court, or not?

55% Yes, 36% No

Moon Walk & Space Travel Roundup

Topics: Space Travel

To mark the 40th anniversary of the the Apollo 11 moon mission, here are some links to recent reviews of public opinion on the space program, past and present:

  • CBS News looks forward on opinion on a mission to Mars and backward on whether landing on the moon was worth it.
  • Separately, Jon Cohen and Gary Langer review new results from the ABC News/Washington Post poll on whether the lunar landing was worth it.
  • Last week, Langer took a look back at historic public opinion data on the space program.

And what follows has absolutely nothing to do with polling or public opinion, but for those geeks among us of a certain age -- I was five years old at the time and positively enraptured by all things NASA -- these are worth a click:

  • On "We Choose the Moon," the John F. Kennedy library is running an amazing multimedia web page that, as the Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro puts it, " recreates Apollo 11's mission, minute by minute, with a mix of audio recordings, text, photos and videos." You can listen to a live audio feed of the chatter between the astronauts and mission control, as it happened, exactly 40 years ago today.

MN: Franken, Pawlenty (Rasmussen 7/15)

7/15/09; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR



Favorable / Unfavorable
Coleman: 49 / 49
Franken: 49 / 49
Pawlenty: 55 / 43

US: 2012 Pres (Rasmussen 7/16-17)

7/16-17/09; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: IVR



2012 President
Romney 45%, Obama 45%
Obama 48%, Palin 42%
Obama (D) 44%, Romney (R) 33%, Palin (i) 16%

If Sarah Palin loses the Republican nomination should she run for President as an independent candidate?
21% Yes, 63% No

Health Care Costs vs. Coverage: Part II

Topics: Barack Obama , Bill McInturff , Celinda Lake , Health Care Reform , Joel Benenson , Mickey Kaus

My National Journal column for this week expands on my post from last week that reviewed the inconsistent results from polls that push Americans to choose between reduced cost and expanded coverage as the most important goal of health care reform.

My reading of the data yields a theory about the most powerful message for health care reform. To quote the column:

[These results imply that the most enticing aspect of health care reform exists at the intersection of cost and coverage. True, the February Kaiser survey found relatively less anxiety about "losing your health insurance coverage" [than about rising increasing costs] -- 34 percent were "very worried," another 20 percent "somewhat worried" -- but Americans also understand that a loss of coverage means a catastrophic increase in personal cost, especially in the event of a major illness.

Slate's Mickey Kaus puts it more simply: The aspect of reform that "most voters might desperately crave" is "not having to worry about where their health insurance will come from anymore.

While we are not seeing much in the way of pro-reform "message testing" survey results in the public domain, it is interesting that the pro-reform advertising featuring, ironically, the same "Harry and Louise" characters that helped defeat reform sixteen years ago (this time sponsored by the odd alliance of pro-reform Families USA and PhRMA) hits this message as clearly as I have seen anywhere. The describe "reform" as "good coverage people can afford, coverage people can get even if they have a pre-existing condition, coverage they can keep if they change jobs or lose their job." (My National Journal colleague Marilyn Werber Serafini has more details on the return of Harry and Louise).

Notice also the way President Obama's remarks from last Friday (as quoted by Kaus) hits a similar message blending concerns about cost and coverage:

So this is what health insurance reform will mean for the average American. It will mean lower costs, more choices and coverage you can count on. It will save you and your family money.

You won't have to worry about being priced out of the market. You won't have to worry about one illness leading to your family going into financial ruin.

Americans will have coverage that finally has stability and security, and Americans who don't have health insurance will finally have affordable quality options.

See the column for details on the public attitudes that support these messages.

For further reading: Some of the advocacy organizations on different sides of the reform battle are starting to release memoranda based on their own internal surveys. The pro-reform organization Third Way, for example, argues for a message, much like that articulated by Obama above, of "stability--stable coverage, stable costs, and stable quality." The memo is based on a survey conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group, one of the firms that also conducts internal polls for the Democratic National Committee on behalf of the Obama administration.

A memorandum from an alliance of labor unions and business interests known as America's Agenda (and referenced in David Broder's column yesterday) offers a different perspective. The memo, from Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, Republican pollster Bill McInturff and their associates finds support "across the political spectrum" for reforms focused on "changes to improve quality and control costs" without explicit measures to expand coverage.

PS:  And you can make some inferences about what the message testing surveys say about how to defeat health care reform from this advertisement produced by the Republican National Committee (via Hotline On-Call

US: 2012 Pres (PPP 7/15-16)

Public Policy Polling (D)
7/15-16/09; 577 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: IVR



Obama Job Approval
50 / 43 (chart)
Dems: 84 / 11 (chart)
Reps: 12 / 82 (chart)
Inds: 46 / 42 (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Gingrich: 36 / 42
Huckabee: 42 / 33
Palin: 47 / 45 (chart)
Romney: 37 / 37

2012 President
Obama 50%, Gingrich 42%
Obama 48%, Huckabee 42%
Obama 51%, Palin 43%
Obama 49%, Romney 40%

Party ID
42% Democrat, 35% Republican, 23% Independent (chart)

NY: 2010 Gov (Siena 7/13-16)

Siena Research Institute
7/13-16/09; 623 registered voters, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews


New York

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Paterson: 22 / 77 (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Paterson: 36 / 56 (chart)
Rick Lazio (R): 25 / 22
Andrew Cuomo (D): 63 / 21
Rudy Giuliani: 61 / 34

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
65% Cuomo, 23% Paterson (chart)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Giuliani 75%, Lazio 14% (chart)

2010 Governor: General Election (trends)
Giuliani 57%, Paterson 34% (chart)
Paterson 41%, Lazio 39%
Cuomo 49%, Giuliani 44% (chart)
Cuomo 65%, Lazio 20%

NV: Ensign Approval (Mason Dixon 7/14-15)

Mason Dixon / Las Vegas Review Journal
7/14-15/09; 400 likely voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



Ensign: 31 / 38

Do you think Ensign should or should not resign?
34% should, 54% should not

Do you think Ensign should or should not seek re-election?
45% should, 43% should not

US: National Survey (ABC/Post 7/15-18)

ABC News / Washington Post
7/15-18/09; 1,001 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Post: story, results, ABC: story, results)


Obama Approval
59% Approve, 37% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 52 / 46 (chart)

Thinking about health care, one proposal to insure nearly everyone would require all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty on their income tax, excluding those with lower incomes. It would require most employers to offer health coverage or pay a fee. There would be a government-run plan to compete with private insurers. And income taxes on people earning more than 280-thousand dollars a year would be raised to help fund the program. Taken together, would you support or oppose this plan? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

54% Support, 43% Oppose

Party ID
33% Democrat, 22% Republican, 41% Independent (chart)