I just got off the phone with Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, after he’d read the rebuttal given by GOP outfit Resurgent Republic to his criticism of their new poll. His bottom line: They’re still acting in a way that is, to use his phrase, “self-deluding.”
Whit Ayres of Resurgent Republic responded to Greenberg’s criticism, that the firm’s new poll and strategy memo was slanted to produce a favorable result for GOP positions. First of all, he said the poll did not have only a two-point gap in partisan identification, as Greenberg measured it, but was a 33%-29% gap in favor of the Democrats. And he defended his phrasing of the Democratic positions, saying the intent was to effectively paraphrase what a Democrat would say.
Greenberg isn’t buying it.
“I meant my response to be a little pointed. I meant it to be a little on the bemused side, at the start of the discussion,” said Greenberg. “I’m sure you and Pollster.com, other blogs will answer the partisan I.D. question. Nothing changes the fact that this is an outlier on Party ID, even looking at the way he calculated it.”As for the phrasing of a particular question, this is where it gets especially heated. The Resurgent Republic poll phrased a Democratic economic position as: “Government policies should promote fairness by narrowing the gap between rich and poor, spreading the wealth, and making sure that economic outcomes are more equal.”
Ayres noted that the phrase “spreading the wealth” was used by President Obama himself, and that many liberals would agree with it. Greenberg says this is still a distortion of how Obama and Democratic leaders are normally phrasing things right now.
“He’s simply asserting the reasonableness of the arguments presented,” said Greenberg. “But the point on which he responds, that Obama once said ‘spreading the wealth around,’ just underscores how much they’re missing the point. That gotcha is fine in a campaign ad, for an off-hand comment. But if you’re trying to test the strength of an opponent’s argument and how they will advance it, you look at how they present it.”
Greenberg’s point is that Resurgent Republic is taking an Obama gaffe from the 2008 campaign and then making it out to be the official position. “It ends up being self-deluding to run on that,” said Greenberg. He added: “They are telling leaders that this is an argument they should join in this way. But they’re doing that without actually testing what the President of the United States is saying right now.”
Even then, Greenberg said, looking to the 2008 election shows that it wouldn’t work at the end of the day. “They did run the last two and a half weeks on that,” he said. “Joe the Plumber was about that, and it didn’t work. We won, even on the gaffe.”