The Corner

Culture

Latest Poll on Planned Parenthood Defunding Is Misleading

Yesterday afternoon, Quinnipiac released a new poll on the House GOP’s health-care-reform bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The poll shows that 61 percent of respondents oppose cutting off federal funds to Planned Parenthood. After respondent were told that this funding “was being used only for non-abortion health issues such as breast cancer screening,” opposition to defunding Planned Parenthood increased to 80 percent. The poll has already received coverage from a number of media outlets including Politico, Fortune, Time and CNBC.com.

Unfortunately, both this Quinnipiac poll and a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last week contain many of the same flaws. Neither poll mentions Planned Parenthood’s numerous legal and ethical troubles — specifically the group’s mishandling of Medicaid funds and its willingness to help minors circumvent parental-involvement laws. Neither poll mentions that money is fungible, meaning that the half a billion federal dollars flowing to Planned Parenthood each year still indirectly subsidize abortion. Finally, and most importantly, both polls misstate what the AHCA and other defunding bills would actually do. Proposed legislation would not merely defund Planned Parenthood; it would also reallocate that funding to over 10,000 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), which offer comprehensive health services to over 24 million people a year, 14 million of whom are women. (This map illustrates how drastically community clinics outnumber Planned Parenthoods, by a ratio of 20 to one.)

Polls can be useful in describing the dimensions of public opinion to policymakers. When dealing with controversial issues, reputable polling firms will often release the results of multiple survey questions to show that responses are sensitive to question wording. However, when it comes to life issues, many polling firms often appear interested only in providing ammunition to abortion-rights groups and their allies in Congress. Gallup frequently asks the “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice” question, because up until recently, Americans were more likely to describe themselves as “pro-choice.” Questions about pro-life policies that enjoy broad support, such as parental-involvement laws, are asked much less often. This latest poll from Quinnipiac provides yet another unfortunate example of a polling firm advancing an ideological agenda instead of usefully contributing to an ongoing policy debate.

Michael J. New is a visiting assistant professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C.

Most Popular

The Secret Life of Joe Biden

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, Jerry is accused by his new girlfriend, a police officer, of being a fan of the tacky 1990s soap opera Melrose Place. When Jerry lies and denies it, she suggests putting him on a polygraph to find the truth. In an effort to beat the machine, Jerry seeks the advice of his ... Read More

The Secret Life of Joe Biden

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, Jerry is accused by his new girlfriend, a police officer, of being a fan of the tacky 1990s soap opera Melrose Place. When Jerry lies and denies it, she suggests putting him on a polygraph to find the truth. In an effort to beat the machine, Jerry seeks the advice of his ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More

The Consequences of Biden

If you have decided that another four years of Donald Trump would be intolerable, and the prospect of four more years of the dysfunctional Trump circus in the White House fills you with dread, fine. But approach the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency with clear eyes and no illusions. Electing Biden would move ... Read More

The Consequences of Biden

If you have decided that another four years of Donald Trump would be intolerable, and the prospect of four more years of the dysfunctional Trump circus in the White House fills you with dread, fine. But approach the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency with clear eyes and no illusions. Electing Biden would move ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More

The Last Days of Robin Williams

After Robin Williams hanged himself in 2014, the media speculated that financial troubles or depression related to drug or alcohol use might have been the cause. Without discussing those topics, Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is eager to set the record straight and does so in Robin’s Wish, a ... Read More

The Last Days of Robin Williams

After Robin Williams hanged himself in 2014, the media speculated that financial troubles or depression related to drug or alcohol use might have been the cause. Without discussing those topics, Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is eager to set the record straight and does so in Robin’s Wish, a ... Read More

In Praise of Trade School

About a decade ago, I participated in a discussion hosted by the chamber of commerce in a university town about state policies regarding higher education. I’ll never forget the first comment I got from one of the attendees. “The problem with your presentation,” she said, “is that it didn’t focus ... Read More

In Praise of Trade School

About a decade ago, I participated in a discussion hosted by the chamber of commerce in a university town about state policies regarding higher education. I’ll never forget the first comment I got from one of the attendees. “The problem with your presentation,” she said, “is that it didn’t focus ... Read More