Over the past few weeks, the media has flogged the living hell out of a series of Rasmussen polls which purport to show that the support for stimulus pacakge has gone from +11 (meaning 11 percent more Americans support the package than oppose it) to minus 6 (meaning 6 percent more oppose it than support it). On the other hand, Gallup polls show that support hasn’t changed much at all, and that the public still supports the stimulus package:
The differences in the polls can probably be attributed to different wordings in the questions (I won’t bore you with this but you can see it by following the links I provided).
Now, Rasmussen has an excellent track record with polling political races, certainly stronger than Gallup’s. But Scott Rasmussen also has a history of conservative activism, having consulted with the RNC In 2003-2004, self-published a book about privatizing Social Security, and been involved in a law suit opposing same sex unions (you can see all of this here).
There are other examples where Rasmussen public opinion polls are out of whack with other polls — for example, his polls on global warming have 44% of Americans saying they believe it’s caused by “planetary trends” while the percentage who say they believe this (with slightly different wording) in other polls is typically closer to 20% (here; here). Moreover, his article on the global warming polls begins:
Al Gore’s side may be coming to power in Washington, but they appear to be losing the battle on the idea that humans are to blame for global warming.
An analysis of the debate over the stimulus package at times has a similarly partisan bent:
It remains a mystery why the president was not more involved in selling the rescue package from the beginning. Letting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid take the lead early on gave the Republican opposition time to emphasize the large amount of new government spending Democrats have packed into the legislation.[….]
The big unknown is how congressional Democrats will play out their hand. It is possible that their positioning on the topic of more government spending could cancel out any benefits from Obama’s sales effort.
This is not meant to sound all OMG RASMUSSEN IS TEH BIASED. And I still believe that Rasmussen election polls are excellent. But it’s pretty clear to me that Scott Rasmussen opposes the stimulus package and the notion that human activities cause global warming, and that he’s rigged polls to make it look like most Americans have the same position. Reporters ought to take his findings on these topics with a big grain of salt.