Obama and the Polls

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 9 2010 10:37 AM

Obama and the Polls

Before it gets completely forgotten, let's remember the way the president talked about polls and the way the White House did so. The president, on Tuesday :

[T]he fact of the matter is the American people already agree with me. There are polls showing right now that the American people, for the most part, think it's a bad idea to provide tax cuts to the wealthy... I could have enjoyed the battle with Republicans over the next month or two, because as I said, the American people are on our side. This is not a situation in which I have failed to persuade the American people of the rightness of our position. I know the polls. The polls are on our side on this. We weren't operating from a position of political weakness with respect to public opinion.

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Hoping to build support for the tax-cut deal that the president reached with Congressional Republicans, the White House has begun pressing Hill Democrats with polling data showing that extending the tax rates for the rich is politically popular.

A Senate aide sent over a copy of the email that an administration aide sent to offices on Wednesday morning. In it, the aide touts Gallup polling data showing that "Two-thirds of Americans (66%) favor extending the 2001/2003 tax cuts for all Americans for two years, and an identical number support extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed."

Obama was right the first time, of course.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.