The Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank that has been a leader in the Defund Obamacare movement, appeared to go through a small crisis in the last 24 hours over just what percentage of Americans support their cause.
Wednesday morning, Heritage debuted a poster asking if “you” were a part of the 57 percent of Americans who support defunding Obamacare. That same morning, the Kaiser Family Foundation, one of the most respected health policy think tanks, released a monthly tracking poll that found the exact opposite: 57 percent of Americans opposed defunding the health care reform law.As one would expect, liberal commentators called them out on it.
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 28, 2013
Here’s the original poster, for reference:
Thursday morning, the Heritage Twitter account tweeted the poster again. Again, they drew the ire of the liberal Twitterati.
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) August 29, 2013
At that point, TPM reached out to the foundation’s communications staff and former Sen. Jim DeMint, now its director, for clarity on the apparent contradiction.
They never returned TPM’s calls, but a few hours later, both of the previous tweets had been deleted. Heritage then tweeted a new poster at about 12:30 p.m.:
An updated version: pic.twitter.com/nC7k17CvMK
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) August 29, 2013
See the difference? There is now a citation of a August 7-8 poll by Basswood Research, which Heritage’s advocacy arm co-sponsored. That poll found 57 percent of independent voters in 10 key congressional districts favored defunding Obamacare.
That’s the same poll, mind you, that conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin called a “junk poll.” From Rubin:
I have made the case that the Heritage Foundation and its sister institution Heritage Action have left intellectual integrity and political sanity behind in the rush for visibility and fundraising bucks. There is no better example of that than some terribly dishonest polling done to promote the fruitless effort to defund Obamacare by threatening to shut down the government.
After being told that TPM was writing a story on the discrepancy, Mike Gonzalez, vice president of communications at Heritage, reached out to TPM. He asserted that the poster was never intended to reference the Kaiser poll, though it was released on the same day as that poll was making headlines. It was, he said, always a reference to the Basswood poll, and they wanted to make that clear. In fairness to Heritage, they did trumpet the Basswood poll when it was released.
“I wanted to thank you for the tip, but the assumption you made is wrong. We wanted to source it properly,” Gonzalez said, growing testy when the coincidence of the Kaiser poll’s release and the poster’s debut was pointed out. “I know we disagree politically, but this is not about the Kaiser poll.”