From Bob Moran at Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, Inc.:
My first thought is that despite the fact that this poll exaggerates Bush’s poor numbers (I’ll get in to that in a second) and despite the fact that CBS is virulently anti-Bush and the questions reflect that, that we – Republicans and Conservatives – have BIG electoral problems.
I doubt that we will lose the House or Senate. But, we shouldn’t have to be talking about how many seats we think we are going to lose. And, we shouldn’t have to be relying solely on gerrymandered districts for retention of the House. We are, of course, relying on that. That’s how the game is played. But it’s sad when we tell ourselves that we’ll survive based on the lines we drew and not on our strategic application of policies.
We are in the position we are in because (a) President Bush’s administration is tone deaf and has made a number of poor political decisions (foolishly going for massive social security reform instead of just private accounts, Harriett Miers, Katrina – specifically lauding “Browine”, and completely mismanaging the ports deal) and (b) the Republican party establishment has lost the “vision thing” and has become only marginally better than their former Democrat overlords in the House and Senate. Conservatives and Republicans win when they (a) play to their traditional strengths on crime, social deterioration, values, taxes and defense), (b) propose BIG ideas and force the Democrats to take a stand against them and (c) remember that they must be populists – especially when they control the levers of power.
We aren’t doing much of any of that. We should be eliminating ALL the perks in Congress. We should be talking about lifetime bans on Congresspersons from lobbying. We should be talking about a constitutional amendment requiring supermajorities to increase taxes. We should be far more aggressive on immigration, but the President is simply wrong on this issue too – an issue that the public is dramatically to the right of both parties on.
My second thought is that even though the news is bad, this poll continues to be problematic. Here are several reasons:
· I believe the survey is among adults and not voters. In political polling no one cares about what adults think. They care only about what registered voters think. I can’t find data suggesting that this survey is anything BUT a survey of adults. CBS and most news orgs poll adults instead of reg. voters for two reasons (a) it costs less and (b) it makes the data more Democratic.
· The data set itself is dramatically more Democrat. It’s 28% Republican and 37% Democrat AFTER they weighted Republicans UP. In other words, the sample was even more Democrat when it came back. In fact, Democrats were 40% of the sample and Republicans were only 27%. Someone clearly knew having a sample that was 40-27 would be a tip-off, so they weighted Dems down into the 30%s in order to avoid extreme criticism. Why is the sample so Democrat? One reason may be because almost every question bangs the President and I would guess that the hang ups they get are vastly more Republican than Democrat. Think about it. Why would a Republican sit on the phone and answer loaded anti-Bush questions for 15 minutes?
· The survey is NOT being done for actual opinion research, but is being done for headlines. Most of the work I have done for 10 years – probably 90% of it – is NEVER released publicly. It isn’t being written for headlines, it’s being written to get the truth about how people feel. This survey is mostly done to zing Bush, Cheney and Republicans generally.
· Many of the questions are AWFUL. Q54 is an excellent example:
“Q54 After 9/11, President Bush authorized government wiretaps on some phone calls in the U.S. without getting court warrants, saying this was necessary in order to reduce the threat of terrorism. Do you approve or disapprove of the President doing this?”
Does this accurately capture what he authorized? NO!!!!!!! It leaves out the fact (intentionally) that these were calls originating or ending internationally. Any respectable pollster would have included this information – or at the very least split sample the question and given this information to half of the sample to see its impact.