Friday, May 12, 2006

poll pall

virtually overnight the washington post has generated a poll showing twice as many supporters than objectors to bush's illegal nsa spying program, which only yesterday was revealed to have been accumulating records on "tens of millions of americans", contrary to the administration's repeated assurances. bush supporters are of course ecstatic at any news that can be wrung into kool-aid while bush critics seem to be reflexively retreating into their ready disenchantment with the apathetic hordes.

i was planning to post my own analysis of the poll, whose construction raises serious questions regarding the framing of issues, and which completely ignored the central issue of warrants, court orders and oversight, but glenn greenwald's "polling hysteria and the nsa program" nimbly beat me to the punch:

... when the nsa eavesdropping scandal was first disclosed, rasmussen reports quickly issued a blatantly flawed poll purporting to show that "sixty-four percent (64%) of americans believe the national security agency (nsa) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the united states." the question mentioned nothing about warrants. it mentioned nothing about fisa. and it specified that the government would be eavesdropping only on conversations "between terrorism suspects."

the only surprise with the results was that only 64% favored that. One would think that virtually everyone would favor eavesdropping on terrorism suspects. nonetheless, since that was the first poll, it was held up by bush followers as proof that the nsa scandal was political suicide for democrats ...

as the debate over the nsa scandal became more informed and more americans understood the issues at stake, virtually every poll thereafter showed that a majority or plurality of americans oppose warrantless eavesdropping and/or believe the president broke the law, and some even show that a plurality favors the censure resolution. opinions change when people stand up and explain why what the government is doing is wrong and dangerous, and americans respect politicians who are willing to do that even when — especially when — they are not guaranteed by the consulting class ahead of time that they will win.

all other issues aside, there is nothing for bush opponents to lose here by pursuing this issue. nobody who has abandoned george bush is going to again become a supporter of his because he is keeping track of the telephone calls of every single american....

... meanwhile, in the real world, ever since the nsa scandal was revealed, the president's approval rating has done nothing but plummet. that, of course, does not demonstrate a causal relationship, but it certainly proves that scandals of this type do not remotely help the president in any way. all of those frightened beltway democrats who were anonymously screeching that russ feingold's censure resolution played right into karl rove's omnipotent hands, that it destroyed the grand democratic plan, that it would allow the president to recover by forcing the debate back onto his turf — how wrong were they, as always?

i encourage you to read the entire post.

meanwhile, for a no-nonsense takedown of the poll's questions themselves, be sure to also check out former telephone pollster krazypuppy's "worst poll ever: americans do care" at daily kos.

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