Do We Believe this Rasmussen Poll on a Government Shutdown?

Do We Believe this Rasmussen Poll on a Government Shutdown?

Do We Believe this Rasmussen Poll on a Government Shutdown?

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 28 2011 11:12 AM

Do We Believe this Rasmussen Poll on a Government Shutdown?

I like that Rasmussen Reports polls on breaking news questions. I don't like it when the phrasing of the poll questions looks like it gooses the results. But just as he did last week, Scott Rasmussen is out with a poll on a political impasse that 1) ends up looking good for Republicans and 2) gets there by framing the question in a way that benefits Republicans.

The headline from the poll:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post. 

Advertisement

58% Favor Government Shutdown Until Spending Cuts Are Agreed Upon

That's a clear victory for the GOP, clearer than the 48-38 margin in support of Scott Walker's budget stance that Rasmussen found last week. But how does he get there? This is the fifth of five questions.

1*How closely have you followed recent news reports about the federal budgetdebate in Congress?

2*Will the spending cuts proposed by Congressional Republicans significantlyreduce federal spending and deficits or will they have little impact on overalllevels of spending and deficits?

3*Congress never passed a budget for 2011, but authorized spending for a fewmonths. That authorization will expire soon and Congress must act quickly orsome federal government services could be shut down. As Congress authorizesspending for the rest of 2011, should they authorize spending at the samelevels as last year, authorize less spending than last year, or authorize morespending than last year?

4*If Democrats and Republicans fail to reach a budget agreement soon, there willbe a partial shutdown of the federal government. Payments for things likeSocial Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits would continue, but somefederal government services could be shut down until an agreement is reached.Would a partial shutdown of the federal government be good for the economy, badfor the economy, or have no impact on the economy?

5*Would you rather have Congress avoid a government shutdown by authorizingspending at the same levels as last year or would you rather have a partialgovernment shutdown until Democrats and Republicans can agree on what spendingto cut?  

So before someone is asked whether he supports a shutdown, he is told that the shutdown will not affect Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits; he is not told what other services "could be" shut down. He's told that there are three options -- authorize spending at the same levels as last year, authorize less spending than last year, or authorize more spending than last year, but then he's told that the shutdown will be avoided "by authorizing spending at the same levels as last year." But no one is proposing* spending at the same levels as last year. The CR we're talking about is one that Republicans in the House supported first and the Democratic Senate is grudgingly accepting. I'm not sure how useful this poll is for gauging possible support for a shutdown.

(Kudos to RR for putting the questions online like this.)

*I'm sure some progressives are, but I mean that no one in power is.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.