Dangerous Brew

That’s what happens when you mix poll numbers from Rasmussen and whackadoodle editorializing from The Politico. If you go to the front page right now you’ll see this splash headline for an article which argues that Obama has his work cut out for him tomorrow night because most Americans, even most Democrats, see the president’s mortgage adjustment program like Rick Santelli, CNBC’s fat cat populist whose rant against the mortgage program last week had everyone in a twitter.

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The article is based on a Rasmussen poll made up of four fairly leading questions, the featured one of which reads: “Some people say that having the government subsidize mortgage payments for financially troubled homeowners puts the government in the position of rewarding bad behavior. Is the government rewarding bad behavior when it provides subsidies to those who are most at risk of losing their homes?”

(ed.note: The poll question text is only included in the subscriber section of the Rasmussen site.)

This question yielded 55% yes and 32% no.

Now, the thrust of the article gives you the sense that unlike Obama’s other programs, this is one the public is not supporting. Unless you read some other polls that pose a more straightforward question. Do you support the program or not?

The Post asked this question and got: 64% support, 35% oppose.

The Times asked it and got: 61% yes, 20% no.

In other words, the plan appears to have not just majority but something approaching overwhelming support.

(ed.note: On the question of the quality of Rasmussen polls in general, I’ve been watching them closely now through at least two cycles. The toplines tend to be a bit toward the Republican side of the spectrum, compared to the average of other polls. But if you factor that in they’re pretty reliable. And the frequency that Rasmussen is able to turn them around — because they’re based on robocalls — gives them added value in terms of teasing out trends. But the qualitative questions, in terms of their phrasing and so forth, are frequently skewed to give answers friendly toward GOP or conservative viewpoints. All of which is to say that his numbers are valuable. But they need to be read with that bias in mind. On the separate question of whether robocalls are as ‘good’ as traditional live question polls, I think they’ve held up quite well over the last two cycles. I see little evidence that SurveyUSA’s poll haven’t stood up as well as those done by live phone callers.)

Late Update: Yet another poll, this one from CNN, provides broader evidence that President Obama faces very few Santellis.