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A Deeper—and Even More Encouraging—Look at the Results of the Washington Post/ABC News poll

by | Apr 12, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Thanks so much to those many kind readers who responded to ”Understanding where we are at by looking at five sets of numbers.”  This post is a follow up with the same goal: to look for the truth behind the spin that favors pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

The overall point yesterday (at least as regards the Washington Post/ABC News poll) was that the results were skewed because many more Democrats (by 11 points) were included than would be appropriate, given the turnout in recent elections. We’ll be looking at two other results from the poll, relying on some excellent analysis by Ed Morrissey and Jay Cost.

But first the question: what to do if the results show what everybody knows? That the public dislikes ObamaCare, and by a wide margin? Switch the topic. What do I mean?

Here’s part of the lead in a release that went out accompanying the poll results.

“Last month’s hearings on the constitutionality of health care reform didn’t help its popularity: Public support for Barack Obama’s signature   domestic legislation has hit a new low in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, with criticism of the individual mandate as high as ever.

“Fifty-three percent of Americans now oppose the law overall, while just 39 percent support it – the latter the lowest in more than a dozen ABC/Post polls since August 2009. ‘Strong’ critics, at 40 percent, outnumber strong supporters by nearly a 2-1 margin in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

“Two-thirds continue to say the high court should throw out either the entire law (38 percent) or at least the part that requires most individuals to obtain coverage (29 percent) or face a penalty; just a quarter want the court to uphold the law as is. Those numbers, like views on the law overall, are essentially unchanged from a month ago.”

It’s difficult to misread what people are saying—or that the numbers are getting worse or that almost double the number of people strongly criticize ObamaCare as strongly support it. ObamaCare will play an important role next November, regardless of how its defender spin it or tell us voters will be worried about other issues.

I omitted the second paragraph in the release to deal with it separately. It read

“Half the public, moreover, thinks the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the legislation on the basis of the justices’ partisan political views rather than the law. Fewer, 40 percent, think impartial legal analysis will carry the day, with the rest unsure.”

On the off-off chance you didn’t get what the Post was fishing for, when/if the Court overturns some or all of ObamaCare, it will not be because the law is constitutionally flawed but because of the “justices’ partisan political views.” To be clear I don’t believe the public actually believes that. But even if it was more than just the way the question was couched, you see how the Post and ABC News are framing the issue: politics by another name.

What I had missed yesterday when talking about how there were too many self-identified Democrats in the sample (34% Democrats to only 23% Republicans) was how that skewed something else in the service of the narrative that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is in deep trouble with the electorate.

The headline to the poll was that Romney trailed Obama by 7 points. But as Jay Cost explains, this is surely partly attributable to the “hugely Democratic tilt of this poll. Pollsters with a more reasonable spread – in particular Gallup and Rasmussen – show a much tighter contest.”

But even more important is that Obama has enjoyed the benefit of coasting while Republicans have had at one another for months and months and months. “That is now set to change with Romney clearing out the GOP field,” Cost writes. The general election campaign has yet to begin.

In addition to Obama’s underlying unpopularity (he’s been in the mid-to-high 40s for forever), it’s critically important to look at his approval numbers on issues that are worrying people: he is in the low 40s.

And perhaps the most important number of all – whether people believe the country is on the right track/wrong track—almost twice as many say “wrong track” (64%) as say “right track” (33%).

Cost’s bottom line in his Weekly Standard article is absolutely correct.

“ABC News/WaPo has again offered up a pro-Democratic sample that helps Team Obama spin the day’s news. Yet dig a little deeper, and there is bad news here for the president, even if his friends in the media do not want to talk about it.”

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Categories: Obama