Today's clumsy headline is "Voters Divided Between Candidate Who Promises Debt Reduction With Only Spending Cuts and One Who Calls for 'Balanced Approach.'" Here's their slant on the results of the poll:
Forty-six percent (46%) of Likely U.S. Voters are more likely to support a candidate for Congress who says the federal debt should be reduced with only spending cuts, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Forty-eight percent (48%) are more inclined to favor a candidate who thinks a balanced approach including spending cuts and increased tax revenue is needed to reduce the debt.But when you pull the veil back, the news is really bad for Republicans. The poll shamelessly primes respondents to dislike Congress. Here's the questionnaire up to the headline question:
1* How confident are you that your representatives in Congress are actually representing your best interests?A plurality of likely voters expressed support for tax increases on the heels of "no matter how bad things are, Congress will make it worse?" That's a testament to how strong the sentiment is in favor of increasing tax revenue among the electorate.
2* Suppose you could vote in the next election on whether to get rid of the entire Congress and start over again. Would you vote to keep the entire Congress or get rid of the entire Congress?
3* Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: No matter how bad things are, Congress can always find a way to make them worse?
4* Suppose in the race for Congress you had a choice between a candidate who said the federal debt should be reduced with spending cuts only and another candidate who said that a balanced approach including spending cuts and increased tax revenue is needed to reduce the federal debt. Other things being equal, which candidate would you be more likely to support?
Even more interesting is that this is the second whack at a version of this question that Rasmussen has polled in the last week. Only the version on July 25 returned unwanted results:
Fifty-six percent (56%) of Likely U.S. Voters would be more likely to support a candidate for Congress who said that a balanced approach including spending cuts and increased tax revenue is needed to reduce the federal debt. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 34% would be more likely to favor a candidate who promised to vote against all tax hikes.Here's the questionnaire for the 7/25 version:
1* Suppose in the race for Congress you had a choice between a candidate who promised to vote against all tax hikes and another candidate who said that a balanced approach including spending cuts and increased tax revenue is needed to reduce the federal debt. Other things being equal, which candidate would you be more likely to support?Notice something missing? Oh, yeah, the three priming questions that encourage respondents to hate on Congress.
2* Suppose at some point in the future that the federal budget is balanced and even produces a small surplus. There would still, however, be a huge federal debt accumulated from earlier years. If there is ever a federal budget surplus, should the money be used to pay down the federal debt, to cut taxes, or to increase government spending?
So, let's review what we learned from Scott Rasmussen today. First, if you don't like the results in your polling, try again with more slanted questions. Second, the "no new taxes" frame is a loser for Republicans. This can't be good news for 2012, since the extension of the Bush tax cuts was supposed to be the centerpiece issue in the campaign against Obama. Even Scott Rasmussen admits this:
“These results suggest that focusing exclusively on opposition to tax hikes rather than solutions to the federal deficit crisis is a losing position for Republicans,” says Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “At a time when the nation has more than $14 trillion in public debt and $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, voters want to hear how we can limit the burden we are passing on to future generations. Spending cuts are preferred over tax hikes, but the primary objective right now is to reduce the debt.”In 2012, you may see Democratic candidates labeling their Republican opponents with "No New Taxes" and Republicans shying away from the label. Democrats should focus on the need for new revenue and tax reform; voters are with them on this issue. The "pledge of allegiance to the Grover" that seemed like such a good idea at the time may prove to be an albatross around the neck of some Republican incumbents.
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