August 23, 2009 - August 29, 2009


Under 50 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Gallup's Obama job approval hits 50%; Michael Goldfarb and Michael Crowley note the Pollster.com estimate falling under 50.

Jeff Jones reminds that presidential approval usually falls below 50%.

Gallup sees no clear pattern between presidential approval and the Dow Jones average.

Bill Schneider blames health care for Obama's decline.

Jeremy Rosner warns that polls may not foretell the health care outcome.

Gary Langer reports that network exit poll response rates fell 9 points from 2004 to 2008.

A GOP fundraising "survey" suggests Democrats will deny Republicans health care (via Smith); David Weigel obtains a full copy; A GOP spokesperson calls it "inartful."

Andrew Gelman plots health care survey data by age and shows longstanding skepticism among seniors for expanded government involvement in health care.   

Clifford Young shares his view of Obama's health reform missteps.

Jonathan Weisman reports on the poll tested language deployed on both sides of the health care debate (via Appel).

Amy Walter explores the intensity gap.

Tom Jensen ponders why PPP's approval ratings show different trends than Gallup.

Ed Gillespie and Whit Ayres see a GOP opening in the Holder special prosecutor appointment.

Karl Rove plots (PDF) declining Obama support among Hispanics and young voters (via NRO).

Jason Boxt responds to a Bolger/Hobart post.

Bill McInturff says views of Obama's health care plan are comparable to Clinton's in 1994.

John Sides finds little evidence that health care sunk the Democrats in 1994.

The Wall Street Journal says Mark Penn's column did not violate its ethics standards.

Zolitics posts a trailer for its new web series, Moving Numbers (via Soltis).

US: National Survey (Kos 8/24-27)

Daily Kos (D) / Research 2000
8/24-27/09; 2400 adults, 2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Obama: 55 / 40 (chart)
Pelosi: 33 / 58
Democratic Party: 43 / 50
Republican Party: 20 / 71

State of the Country
42% Right direction, 53% Wrong track (chart)

Loss Aversion and Opinions on Health Care Reform

The New Yorker has an interesting piece on how the public's aversion to losses (or loss aversion) limits the extent to which they are willing to favor health care reform. That piece and some others that preceded it are worth reading to understand one reason that Americans may support the general idea of reforming the health care system, but then express far less support when confronted with the possibility that their own health care plans may be affected. The bottom line is that individuals tend to value what they already have to a much greater extent than what they might gain (this is often called the endowment effect). This means, for example, that people are far less willing to part with an item that they already have than they are to forgo receiving that same item if it has not yet been in their possession.

Justin Milner explained the relationship in the Baltimore Sun a few weeks ago:

"In the health care debate, loss aversion helps to color the public's perception of potential reform. A recent Gallup poll found a clear majority of Americans favor health care reform in the coming year. But when pressed on specific aspects of the health care, Americans are decidedly loss averse. Almost 90 percent of Americans want to be able to choose any doctor or hospital they like, and 77 percent of Americans say it is important to have the option to keep the health insurance plan they have now. In sum, we may want change and reform - but not at the cost of any of our current options."

In other words, those that already have health insurance probably overvalue that insurance relative to what would be available to them under health care reform legislation, and this may be driving down support for reform.

Fortunately, the survey released by the Economist yesterday provides a nice addendum to these readings by illustrating how loss aversion can significantly alter public opinion depending on how a question is framed. In this survey, the sample was split randomly into halves. The first half of the sample was asked to choose which of the following plans they preferred:

"A plan with no lifetime limit on benefits."


"A plan that limited the total amount of benefits in your lifetime to $1 million, but saved you $1000 per year."

Four out of five respondents (80%) answering the question framed in this way selected the first option. They'd much rather have a plan with no limit on benefits than save $1,000, but be subjected to a $1 million lifetime limit.

The second half of the sample chose between these options:

"A plan that limited the total amount of benefits in your lifetime to $1 million."


"A plan with no lifetime limit on benefits, but cost you an additional $1000 per year."

Functionally, these options are equivalent to those presented to the first half of the sample. In the first presentation, the limited plan will increase the respondent's wealth by $1000 per year by saving him or her that money; in the second presentation, the limited plan will increase the respondent's wealth by $1000 per year because that respondent will not have to pay the cost of the unlimited plan. However, the different framing of the options (emphasizing "savings" rather than "cost") is critical. Among those choosing from the second set of options opinion was more closely divided--44% chose the plan with limited benefits while 56% chose the unlimited benefits option. In short, more Americans wanted the unlimited plan when it meant forgoing a savings of $1,000 per year than when it meant incurring a cost of $1,000 per year.

It is also important to note that the changes in how the options are framed do not affect all groups equally. In particular, loss aversion appears to be conditioned by income. This makes sense since wealthier respondents may not be as sensitive to a $1,000 per year change in their wealth as those with lower incomes. To demonstrate the relationship, the chart below compares the percentage of respondents who would choose a plan with no lifetime limit depending on whether they received the question with the "savings" frame or the "cost" frame. Respondents are broken down into three income categories.


What stands out from this chart is that respondents in each income category are much more likely to chose the option with no lifetime limit when they received the question with the savings frame. However, under the "cost" frame, responses differed more significantly across income categories. Thus, among respondents making less than $40,000, support for the plan with no lifetime limit was 32 percentage points higher when that plan was presented as a way to forgo a savings of $1,000 rather than incurring a cost of $1,000. The framing effects were much smaller for those with higher incomes.

Of course, these aren't actually the choices being presented to Americans during the health care reform debate, but this survey experiment does provide a neat way of illustrating not only how the framing of health care reform as a potential loss can affect support for the measure, but also among which groups those frames will be most effective. Indeed, the New Yorker article ends by noting that it may still be possible to gain public support for health care reform despite the public's tendency toward loss aversion:

"The key may be to work with, rather than against, people's desire for security. That's surely one reason that Obama has consistently promised people that if they like the health insurance they currently have they can keep it. This promise will make whatever reform we get more inefficient and less comprehensive, but it also assuages people's anxieties. It might even be possible to use the endowment effect and the status-quo bias in the argument for change. After all, although people tend to feel that they own their health insurance, their entitlement is distinctly tenuous...Changing the system so that individuals can get affordable health care, while banning bad behavior on the part of insurance companies, will actually make it more likely, not less, that people will get to preserve their current level of coverage."

For the public to support health care reform, the reform needs to be framed as something that will help keep most individuals (who do have insurance) from losing what they already have. Furthermore, the analysis of the Economist survey suggests that individuals with lower incomes are most likely to respond to such an attempt to re-frame the debate in this way. This is notable since there is much ground to be gained among these individuals. In fact, the same survey shows that respondents in the lowest income group are substantially more likely than others to be unsure about whether the health care reform plan would make them better or worse off. This group appears to have their minds least made up on health care reform and their opinions may be the most susceptible to the efforts by both sides to frame this issue during the coming weeks and months.

SC: Sanford (InsiderAdvantage 8/27)

8/27/09; 917 registered voters
Mode: IVR
(Politico story)

South Carolina

Gov. Sanford should:
50% Resign
37% Stay in office

US: Energy (ABC/Post 8/13-17)

ABC News / washington POst
8/13-17/09; 1,001 adults, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(ABC: story, results; Post story, results)


Obama Approval: Energy policy
55% Approve
30% Disapprove

Given what you know about them, would you say you support or oppose the proposed changes to U.S. energy policy being developed by Congress and the Obama administration? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
57% Support
29% Oppose

Do you think the proposed changes to U.S. energy policy would add jobs in your
state, take away jobs or won't make much of a difference?

36% Add
15% Take Away
42% No difference

Do you think the proposed changes to U.S. energy policy would increase your
energy costs, decrease them or won't make much of a difference?

41% Increase
16% Decrease
36% No difference

US: Health Care (Rasmussen 8/25-26)

8/25-26/09; 1,000 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?
43% Favor
53% Oppose

If the health care reform plan passes, will the quality of health care get better, worse, or stay about the same?
23% Better
50% Worse
21% Same

If the health care reform plan passes, will the cost of health care go up, go down, or stay about the same?
52% Up
17% Down
21% Same

NYC: 2009 Mayor (SurveyUSA 8/21-25)

8/21-25/09; 603 likely Democratic primary voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(SurveyUSA release)

New York City

2009 Mayor: Democratic Primary
Thompson 48%, Avella 13% (chart)

US: 2012 President (Clarus 8/14-18)

Clarus Research Group
8/14-18/09; 1,003 voters, 3.1% margin of error
353 Republicans
Mode: live telephone interviews
(Clarus release)


Obama Job Approval
49% Approve, 39% Disapprove (chart)
Health care: 39 / 48 (chart)

2012 President
Obama 47%, Romney 38%
Obama 53%, Palin 34%
Obama 52%, Gingrich 34%
Obama 48%, Huckabee 38%

2012 President: Republican Primary
Romney 30%
Huckabee 22%
Palin 18%
Gingrich 15%
Jindal 4%

US: National Survey (Economist 8/23-25)

Economist / YouGov
8/23-25/09; 1,000 adults, 4.9% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Economist release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 49 / 45 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 25 / 53
Ted Kennedy: 43 / 41

Obama Job Approval
48% Approve, 45% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 83 / 12 (chart)
Reps: 14 / 82 (chart)
Inds: 44 / 50 (chart)
Economy: 45 / 48 (chart)
Health Care: 41 / 51 (chart)

Congress Job Approval
14% Approve, 60% Disapprove (chart)

National House Ballot
41% Democrat, 38% Republican (chart)

State of the Country
32% Right direction, 54% Wrong track (chart)
Economy: 24% Getting better, 36% Getting worse (chart)

Do you favor or oppose having a "public option" which would allow individuals to purchase
health insurance coverage from the government?

43% Favor, 30% Oppose

NJ: Christie 43 Corzine 41 (DemCorps 8/25-26)

Democracy Corps (D)
8/25-26/09; 608 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Democracy Corps: memo, toplines)

New Jersey

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine: 37 / 48 (chart)
Chris Christie: 35 / 34
Chris Daggett: 4 / 8
Barack Obama: 57 / 30 (chart)

2009 Governor (chart)
Christie 43%, Corzine 41%, Daggett 7%
Christie 46%, Corzine 43%

The Public Option: No 'Perfect' Poll

Topics: Health Care Reform , Measurement , Public Option

Is there a right way to "poll the public option?" Are most pollsters "getting it wrong," while only a few ask the "perfect question" about the much debated health care reform proposal to create a "public option?" Nate Silver, in a post earlier this week, argues just that and suggests "five essential ingredients" for a good poll on the public opinion.

While I agree with some of Nate's observations, I have to disagree with his underlying premise. When it comes to testing reactions to complex policy proposals, I would rather have 10 pollsters asking slightly different questions and allowing us to compare and contrast their results than trying to settle on a single "perfect question" that somehow captures the "truth" of public opinion. On an issue as complicated and poorly understood as "public option," that sort of polling perfection is neither attainable nor desirable.  In this case, public opinion does not boil down to a single number.

Before tackling Silver's argument, let's start with another similar discussion that takes a different approach to the challenges of polling the public option, also posted on Monday, by ABC News polling director Gary Langer. He gathered results and full text (PDF) of eight questions asked on recent national polls that attempt to measure support for the "public option" and found support ranging from a high of 66% (on the late July CBS/New York Times poll) to a low of 43% (on the recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll).


Langer's post reviews possible explanations for the variation, including question structure (whether it appears as a "stand alone" question or within a list), the way "polling technique" can influence the undecided level, the potential for question order effects and, of course, the differences in question language. For example, references to the plan as "similar to Medicare" appear to create greater support, although as Langer notes, a split-sample experiment conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in June found "no significant overall difference when it mentioned Medicare" (details here).

He also highlights the many variations in the way these questions describe the role of government, such as "government run," "government sponsored," "government created" or "administered by the government." These varying approaches, he writes, "underscore the challenges in polling on health care reform; it's tough to come up with wording that precisely portrays proposals that themselves haven't been clearly defined."

Langer's bottom line is that the larger variability of the polling data confirms an argument he has made previously: "public opinion on health care reform has long been highly malleable" and "pushback works. "Malleable" is also the word the analysts at the Kaiser Family Foundation chose to describe views on the public option as measured by a series of questions on their July tracking poll. After finding 59% in favor of "creating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans," the Kaiser pollsters followed up with "arguments commonly heard in the debate" and asked respondents if they would "still favor" or "still oppose" the plan as described. They found that one-sided arguments pro and con could push support for such a plan as low as 35% or as high as 72%.


We often hear pollsters use words like "malleable" and "fluid" to explain wide poll-to-poll variation, and many readers either find those explanations confusing or hear them as a cop-out for "bad" work. Those of us that spend our time deeply engaged in public policy debates often feel frustrated with the wording of surveys that fail to conform to our own sense of the substance of the debate. And that brings me back to Nate Silver's post.

He presents "five essential ingredients in conducting a good poll on the public option:"

1. Make clear that the 'public option' refers unambiguously to a type of health insurance, and not the actual provision of health care services by the government.

2. Make clear that by "public", you mean "government".

3. Avoid using the term 'Medicare' when referring to the public option.

4. Make clear that the public option is, in fact, an option, and that private insurance is also an option.

5. Ask in clear and unambiguous terms whether the respondent supports the public option -- not how important they think it is.

The post fleshes out each item in more detail, and there are certainly elements I agree with. For example, if our goal is to measure support for a proposal, better to ask respondents if they support it rather than whether they consider it "important." I also agree that the word "government" conveys the reality of the public option more clearly than the word "public." Generally speaking, of course, survey questions should always try to describe policy proposals accurately.

But that said, Silver's recommendations still involve a lot of subjective judgments. What I disagree with is that these various judgments add up to an objectively "perfect" question. To explain why, let's step back a bit and think about different kinds of questions we could ask respondents.

First, consider some entirely "factual" questions we might ask: How old are you? Are you male or female? What is the last grade you completed in school? Do you own a car? Do you own a cell phone? In each case, most people have a ready answer. For a respondent to answer these questions on a poll, the process is mostly about retrieving an answer from memory and selecting the most appropriate answer category.

Attitude questions can probe similarly real, currently held opinions: Do you like your car (if you have one)? Do you like your cell phone? Do you have a positive or negative impression of Barack Obama? Fitting that opinion to the pollsters sometimes vague answer categories may get a little fuzzy (e.g. "somewhat favorable"), but here again, most people have real, ready opinions to share.

On the other hand, consider this question: Should we repeal the 1975 Public Affairs Act? Very, very few Americans should have a pre-existing opinion since no such act ever passed. Yet that did not stop 30% to 40% from agreeing or disagreeing that the non-existent Act should be repealed on survey experiments conducted by George Bishop and University of Cincinnati colleagues in the mid 1970s.

What Bishop and others have learned over the years is that survey respondents work hard to answer questions and that they frequently form those answers on the spot based on underlying values tapped by cues in the question language. Twenty years later, for example, the Washington Post's Richard Morin modified the experiment and found that when the question informed respondents that either "President Clinton" or the "Republicans in Congress" wanted to repeal the non-existent law, responses polarized along partisan lines.

So how many Americans are familiar enough with the "public option" to have real, pre-existing opinions about it? I am guessing very few, but unfortunately, few pollsters have tried to tackle that particularly challenging question. An AARP sponsored survey released just yesterday claims to have an answer ("only 37% able to identify" public option), but the sparse details available about its non-random internet-panel methodology and the nature of the question (anyone guessing would have a one-third chance of choosing the right answer) suggest we should interpret it with extreme caution. If anything, their result probably overstates true familiarity with the public option.

For the sake of argument, lets assume that only about a third of Americans are familiar with the public option and have an opinion, pro-or-con. What do we hope to achieve by providing a very brief description and asking a random sample of all Americans whether they favor or oppose? Are we trying to measure current attitudes or predict what views might be in the future? Or are we aiming for something in between, treating the poll like a jury panel, chosen to weigh new information and render verdict as a proxy for the larger population?

If we are trying to describe current attitudes, then virtually every "public option" poll vastly overstates both support and opposition to the public option. "Don't know" is most likely the true prevailing view of the public option.

If we are either trying to predict future opinion or, as I think is more commonly the case, expecting the survey respondents to quickly absorb new information and render judgments on behalf of all Americans, then the task of settling on a "perfect" question involves a lot of hugely subjective decisions. How much information is enough? How much is too much? What information is "fair and balanced," what is leading?

Silver tells us, for example, that poll questions should make clear that the public opinion "is, in fact, an option" along with private insurance. On the other hand, he argues that likening the proposal to Medicare may be leading and, as such, provides "too much information."

Fair enough.  But if "choice" is important, why not clarify that the "option" would only be available to those under-65 Americans currently without health insurance? And why stop there? If our goal is to fairly educate our jury, why not include the price tag or the need for some sort of tax increase to pay for it? Why stop at a single sentence? Why not present more complete arguments, pro and con?

My point here not to take a side on any of these questions but to point out that reasonable people might come to different conclusions about how much information is necessary, and about what is fair and what is leading. 

Four years ago, I waded into a similar discussion of polling about the Terry Schaivo controversy and, much as Nate is doing, tried to referee the "right" way to ask about the issue. An old friend and academic sent this very persuasive comment that applies just as well to this conversation about polling the public option. I will let him have the last words:

Mark, I think that your discussion here implicitly endorses a commonly held error about the best way to interpret polling data about matters of public interest . . .

The error is the incorrect belief that there is a "right" or "unbiased" way to ask a question about any given public issue. There is no such thing. Everyone who works within the polling field is well aware that small changes in wording can affect the ways in which respondents answer questions. This approach leads us into tortuous discussions of question wording on which reasonable people can differ. Further, as you have pointed out many times in the past, random variation in the construction of the sample or in response rates can skew the results of any single poll away from the true distribution of opinions in the population.

So how do we look at public opinion on an issue such as the Schiavo case? The answer is NOT to find a single poll with the "best" wording and point to its results as the final word on the subject. Instead, we should look at ALL of the polls conducted on the issue by various different polling organizations. Each scientifically fielded poll presents us with useful information. By comparing the different responses to multiple polls -- each with different wording -- we end up with a far more nuanced picture of where public opinion stands on a particular issue. If we can see through such comparisons that stressing different arguments or pieces of information produces shifts in responses, then we have perhaps learned something. Like our own personal opinions, public opinion is not some sort of simple yes/no set of answers; it is complex, and it can see both sides of complicated issues when presented with enough information.

If we were to lock pollsters of all partisan persuasions in a room and force them to pick the "best" question wording on the Schiavo issue, we might end up with everyone asking the same question, but overall we would end up with less information about public opinion, not more. We are better off having the wide variety of different polls, with questions stressing different points of view on the issues, and then comparing them all to one another.

Reifman: Health Care Age-Group Comparisons

Topics: health care , Health Care Reform

Prof. Alan Reifman teaches social science research methodology at Texas Tech University, and is compiling the results of public opinion polls on the specifics of health care reform at his blog, Health Care Polls.

There's been a lot of discussion of how seniors, who already are on Medicare, appear to be the least supportive age group of President Obama and the Democrats' plans for enacting health care reform. Seemingly at the center of seniors' concerns is the idea of cutting federal support for a program called Medicare Advantage. According to a Los Angeles Times article:

Although scaling back payments would have no effect on a sizable majority of Medicare users, it would create an opening for opponents to make the blanket allegation that the president wants to cut back on Medicare benefits -- as some Republicans are already starting to say.

Also, of course, seniors were more likely to vote for John McCain in last year's presidential election than were younger voters, who went overwhelmingly for Obama.

The diagram below (which you may click on to enlarge) compares different age groups' attitudes toward health care reform in four recent polls. Compiling these percentages was not as easy as I thought it might be, for a variety of reasons. First, only some pollsters make a public release of cross-tabulations between demographic characteristics and health care-related attitudes (other pollsters reserve such cross-tabs for paid subscribers). Second, age cross-tabs on a common attitude item were not always available. My plan was to use general favor/oppose items toward Obama and the Democrats' reform plan, but such an item was not always available so I had to substitute other types of items, as described below. Third, different pollsters use different cut-points to create their age groups. There's always a youngest age group, for example, but some pollsters bracket it from 18-29 whereas others use 18-34; similar discrepancies exist for other age groups, as well.

hc age groups.jpg
Having said all this, the pattern of seniors showing the least support for Obama/Democratic reform plans is clear and well replicated. For any given color of bar (purple, light blue, green, or orange; each representing a different pollster and question), the shortest height is with the seniors.

One other thing to notice is that two polls, ABC/Washington Post and The Economist/YouGuv, only reported on a 30-64 broad middle-age group rather than having two groups like other pollsters; whether groups in the lower and upper halves of the 30-64 age range were combined because they did not differ much in their responses, or the pollsters never broke 30-64 year-olds into smaller subsets, I don't know. For these two polls, I have taken the percentage on the respective attitude measures attributed to 30-64 year-olds and plotted them twice (linked by a light-blue or green horizontal line), where a 30s-40s group and a 50s-60s group would ordinarily go. Now that these "housekeeping" matters are out of the way, here are the question wordings used:

Survey USA (Aug. 19): “Now I am going to tell you more about the health care plan that President Obama supports and please tell me whether you would favor or oppose it. The plan requires that health insurance companies cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. It also requires all but the smallest employers to provide health coverage for their employees, or pay a percentage of their payroll to help fund coverage for the uninsured. Families and individuals with lower- and middle-incomes would receive tax credits to help them afford insurance coverage. Some of the funding for this plan would come from raising taxes on wealthier Americans. Do you favor or oppose this plan?”

ABC/Washington Post (Aug. 13-17): “Reform’s supported by 58 percent of adults under age 30, but 44 percent of 30- to 64-year-olds and just 34 percent of seniors, apparently concerned about its potential impact on Medicare” (this quote comes from an article and does not depict the actual survey item).

Economist-You Gov (Aug. 16-18): “If President Obama and Congress pass a health care reform plan, do you think you personally would receive better or worse care than you receive now?" (% Saying Better).

Kaiser Family Foundation (Aug. 4-11): “Do you think you and your family would be better off or worse off if the president and Congress passed health care reform, or don’t you think it would make much difference?” (% Saying Better).

The four polls above were not the only ones that made some type of age-related comparison. Others did, as well, but their age groupings and/or survey items appeared non-comparable in some way to the four polls whose results I plotted. Two additional polls are as follows:

A Harris Interactive poll used what I think are the most interesting age-group descriptors (shown in Table 2 of the linked document): "Echo Boomers (18-32), Gen. X (33-44), Baby Boomers (45-63), Matures (64+)." Harris plotted the percentage of respondents in each age group who rated Obama's job performance in various issue domains as "fair" or "poor." On health care, higher percentages of Matures (71%) and Gen. X (69%) gave Obama these unflattering ratings than did Echo and Baby Boomers (each 62%). Along with some of the figures from other polls plotted above, this finding from Harris shows a non-linear trend (i.e., support does not decline in perfect progression from the youngest to the oldest voters).

Finally, a Penn, Schoen, & Berland poll released in conjunction with AARP reported only comparisons between respondents younger than 50 and 50-plus. A section of this poll's report entitled "Specific Policy Proposals" (on pages 6-7) is perhaps the most worthy of attention. On most of the items, the younger respondents are more favorably inclined, but on others, there is little or no difference.

(Cross-posted to Health Care Polls)

US: Health Care (AARP 8/12-13)

AARP / Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates (D)
8/12-13/09; 1,000 adults, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(PSB: release, toplines)

To what degree do you favor or oppose the following health care proposals?

Making insurance available to everyone regardless of their health history
86% Favor, 11% Oppose

Starting a new federal health insurance plan that individuals could purchase if they can't afford private plans offered to them
79% Favor, 18% Oppose

Keeping health insurance mainly a private industry but allowing the government to serve as an industry watchdog to help expand coverage and keep an eye on costs
62% Favor, 32% Oppose

Requiring everyone to either accept employer-provided health insurance or purchase a health insurance policy
45% Favor, 48% Oppose

Do you favor or oppose using the following things to raise money to fund health care improvements?

Limiting the deductions that higher-income people can claim on their income tax returns
72% Favor, 23% Oppose

Taxing employers that do not provide health insurance to their employees
68% Fsavor, 29% Oppose

Taxing employees who receive more than the average amount of health care benefits from their employees
34% Favor, 60% Oppose

Looking for savings in the current Medicare system to pay for health care reform
68% Favor, 27% oppose

NJ: Christie 50 Corzine 42 (Rasmussen 8/25)

8/25/09; 500 likely voters; 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(Rasmussen release)

New Jersey

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 55% Approve, 44% Disapprove (chart)
Gov. Corzine: 35% Approve, 65% Disapprove (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Christie: 48 / 51
Jon Corzine: 36 / 61 (chart)

2009 Governor (chart)
Without leaners: Christie 47%, Corzine 36%
With leaners: Christie 50%, Corzine 42%

WI: 2010 Gov (Tarrance 8/18-19)

Tarrance Group (R - Walker)
8/18-19/09; 800 likely voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinal article)


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Scott Walker 57%, Mark Neumann 21%

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
Tom Barrett 39%, Barbara Lawton 25%, Ron Kind 19%

2010 Governor: General Election (trends)
Walker 44%, Barrett 43%
Walker 48%, Lawton 40%
Walker 49%, Kind 39%

Kennedy's Legacy

Topics: Edward Kennedy

"What," I heard Chuck Todd ask on MSNBC a few minutes ago, "is the way [Sen. Edward Kennedy's] legacy should be measured?"

I'm not sure I have a great answer, except to say that public opinion polling is not the first that springs to mind. However, if you are interested in a review of Kennedy's political life through polling (as The Atlantic's Chris Good put it earlier this morning), here are some suggestions:

  • ABC's polling director Gary Langer went back into the archives to chronicle Kennedy through public opinion polling back to the 1960s.
  • Republican pollster Alex Lundry dug up some similar data that he passes on via Twittter (the individual links: 1, 2, 3, 4).
  • The most recent measure of Kennedy's national popularity was taken by the CNN/ORC poll earlier this month. They found 51% of American adults rating Kennedy favorably, 35% unfavorably.
  • The always indispensable Polling Report has a compilation of Kennedy's recent favorable ratings from four pollsters, including CNN.

If you prefer a more qualitative assessment of Kennedy's life and legacy, let me recommend the impressive collection of over 40 first hand accounts from lawmakers, staffers and others who knew him best, compiled by my National Journal colleagues.

GA: 2010 Governor (SVision 8/21-23)

Strategic Vision (R)
8/21-23/09; 800 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Strategic Vision release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Perdue: 50 / 39
Sen. Chambliss: 46 / 40
Sen. Isakson: 55 / 39
Pres. Obama: 37 / 56

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
John Oxendine 39%
Nathan Deal 13%
Karen Handel 12%
Eric Johnson: 6%
Austin Scott: 3%
Ray McBerry 2%

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
Roy Barnes 45%
Thurbert Baker 29%
David Poythress 4%
Dubose Porter: 2%

US: Obama Approval (Harris 8/10-18)

Harris Interactive
8/10-18/09; 2,498 adults
Mode: Internet
(Harris: approval, issue approval)


Obama Job Approval
51% Excellent/Pretty Good, 49% Only Fair/Poor (chart)
Dems: 81 / 19 (chart)
Reps: 13 / 87 (chart)
Inds: 47 / 53 (chart)
Economy: 39 / 61 (chart)
Health Care: 35 / 65 (chart)

State of the Country
46% Right Direction, 54% Wrong Track (chart)

AR: 2010 Sen. Gov (PPP 8/21-24) -Updated

Public Policy Polling (D)
8/21-24/09; 784 likely voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(PPP: Pres, Sen)
(Update: Gov)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Sen. Lincoln: 36 / 44
Sen. Pryor:47 / 32
Pres. Obama: 40 / 56
Gov. Beebe: 63 / 17

Favorable / Unfavorable
Gilbert Baker (R): 7 / 15
Curtis Coleman (R): 6 / 13
Tom Cotton (R): 4 / 12
Allen Kerr (R): 4 / 8

2010 Senate
Baker 42%, Lincoln 40%
Coleman 41%, Lincoln 40%
Lincoln 40%, Cotton 39%

2010 Governor
Beebe 55%, Kerr 24%

Do you support or oppose President Obama's health care plan, or do you not have an opinion?
29% Support, 60% Oppose

FL: McCollum 48 Sink 37 (POS 8/4-5)

Florida Justice Reform Institute (R) / Public Opinion Strategies (R)
8/4-5/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Tampabay.com post)


2010 Governor

McCollum 48%, Sink 37% (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 45 / 50 (chart)
Gov. Crist: 62 / 35 (chart)

NYC: 2009 Mayor (Quinnipiac 8/18-24)

8/18-24/09; 1,290 registered voters, 2.7% margin of error
766 Democrats, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

New York City

Favorable / Unfavorable
Tony Avella (D): 14 / 4
William Thompson (D): 38 / 10
Mike Bloomberg (i/R): 65 /31 (chart)

Bloomberg Job Approval
66% Approve, 28% Disapprove (chart)

2009 Mayor: Democratic Primary
45% Thompson, 10% Avella (chart)

2009 Mayor: General Election
50% Bloomberg, 35% Thompson (chart)
55% Bloomberg, 28% Avella (chart)

US: Health Care (POS 8/11-13)

Public Opinion Strategies (R)
8/11-13/09; 800 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(POS release


State of the Country
38% Right direction, 56% Wrong track (chart)

Obama Job Approval
54% Approve, 43% Disapprove (chart)

Based on what you know, do you favor or oppose President Obama's proposed health care plan, or do you not yet have an opinion?
25% Favor, 37% Oppose (chart)

The more I hear about President Obama's health plan...
38% The more I like it
49% The less I like it

Party ID
26% Republican, 34% Democrat, 38% independent (chart)

Emily Has a Hard Job 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Gary Langer and Nate Silver offer different perspectives on polling on the public option.

DailyKos polls in Jim Cooper's district; Cooper fires back, Kos responds (via TPM)

Gallup reports a new weekly low in Obama approval.

Greg Sargent highlights evidence of declining confidence in Obama among Democrats and liberals; Steve Benen has more.   

Jay Cost identifies Obama's worst poll number.

James Vega argues that Obama's slide was inevitable.

Steve Singiser asks if dour Democratic projections for 2010 are justified.

Tom Jensen ponders class, education and the 2012 Republican field.

Alan Reifman reviews misconceptions about health care reform.

Glen Bolger and Jim Hobart find that states with more conservatives show smaller budget shortfalls than states with more liberals.

Kristen Soltis returns for a new season of The Right Idea.

Andrew Gelman and John Sides publish their summary of the "true story" (statistically) of Obama's election (via Gelman).

Josh Tucker reviews public opinion on gay marriage.

The Detroit Free Press reports on polling on U.S. Reps. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and John Conyers

The Giannoulias campaign leaks word of their internal IL-Senate polling, but not the numbers.   

Jason Hollins considers the ever increasing challenges of measuring television viewership.

And, thankfully, Emily will return tomorrow and things we will get back to our normal pace of posts and updates. Thanks for your patience!

MA: 2010 Governor (Rasmussen-8/20)

Rasmussen Reports
8/20/2009; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR

(Rasmussen summary, results)


Job Approval
Pres. Barack Obama - 59% Approve, 41% Disapprove
Gov. Deval Patrick (D) - 39% Approve, 60% Disapprove

2010 Governor
Christy Mihos (R) 40%, Patrick 35%
Charles Baker (R) 39%, Deval Patrick (D) 40%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Patrick: 40 / 56
Mihos: 50 / 30
Baker 40 /30

NJ: 09 Governor (Neighborhood 8/12-21)

Neighborhood Research (R - Rick Shaftan)
8/12-21/09; 319 likely voters, 5.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(PolitickerNJ report)

New Jersey

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine: 23 / 46 (chart)
Chris Christie: 20 / 27
Chris Daggett: 2 / 1
Barack Obama 47 / 28

2009 Governor
Among "likely voters" (n=319): Corzine 37%, Christie 35%, Daggett 6% (chart)
Among "definite voters" (n<319 but not reported): Christie 39%, Corzine 36%, Daggett 6%

NY: 2010 Gov/Sen (Siena 8/17-20)

Siena Research Institute
8/17-20/09; 621 registered voters, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(Siena release)

New York

Job Approval
Gov. Paterson: 23 excellent/good, 76 fair/poor (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Paterson: 32 / 55 (chart)
Rick Lazio (R): 21 / 22
Andrew Cuomo (D): 70 / 14
Rudy Giuliani: 57 / 35
Kirsten Gillibrand 29 / 20 (chart)

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

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Giuliani 73%, Lazio 6%, Collins 8% (chart)

2010 Governor: General Election (trends)
Giuliani 56%, Paterson 33% (chart)
Paterson 38%, Lazio 37%
Cuomo 53%, Giuliani 40% (chart)
Cuomo 66%, Lazio 16%

2010 Senate - General Election
Gillibrand 46, King 24 (chart)
Gillibrand 39, Pataki 42 (chart)

NV: 2010 Senate (Mason Dixon 8/17-18)

Mason Dixon/Las Vegas Review Journal
8/17-18/09; 400 likely voters, 5% margin of error; 300 likely Republican primary voters
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

(story, results)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Pres. Obama: 44% / 43%
Sen. Ensign (R): 30% / 37%
Sen. Reid (D): 37% / 50%

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
(Without Heller) Danny Tarkanian 33%, Sue Lowden 14%, Sharron Angle 5%, Chuck Kozak 1%, Undecided 47%
(With Heller) Danny Tarkanian 29%, Dean Heller 23%, Sue Lowden 12%, Sharon Angle 3%, Undecided 33%

2010 Senate: General Election
Heller 50%, Reid 40%, undecided 10%
Tarkanian 49%, Reid 38%, undecided 13%
Lowden 45%, Reid 40%, undecided 15%

Do you support or oppose President Obama's proposal to reform health care?
Support 40%, oppose 50%, not sure 10%

Thank You, Time!

Topics: Pollster.com

Some very good news: Time has named Pollster.com to its list of the 50 Best Websites of 2009! What makes this honor especially huge is that Time's list is not limited to political or blog sites but rather features a much broader range of sites that "make your online life more efficient -- or just more fun." This year's list includes names like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Skype, YouTube, Amazon, and Wikipedia, so we are in truly amazing company.


We are also very gratified that Time specifically recognized interactive charting features that we have worked so hard on:

Pollster also aggregates [polling] data, but it has a Web interface that allows you to remix it on the fly. Is there a poll you don't trust? Throw it out! Want a different smoothing algorithm? Change it! How much difference does it even make? Magnify the X and Y axes with a mouse-click and find out.

Thank you, Time!

Not-Quite-Post-Vacation Housekeeping

Topics: Housekeeping , Pollster.com

Now that I'm back from a week's vacation, Emily is taking two well earned days off today and tomorrow and I will be filling in adding new polls to our charts and posting poll updates. As such, those updates will be a bit slower than usual for the next 48 hours. Apologies in advance for that.