August 5th, 2009

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#65 – Dick Bernard: The latest Poll…and the “protests”.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Other posts on this topic: July 24,26,27.29,30,31,August 1,2,6,7,10,15

The latest Poll.

Towards the end of last week news reports were that the public was becoming disenchanted with President Obama’s performance on the Health Care Reform issue. 

His poll numbers had dropped to the point that as many people disapproved of his performance, as approved: 46% to 46%.  He had gone from superhuman to merely mortal.  Basically, that was where the visible coverage (the coverage people notice because that’s what the media intend) ended. 

I decided to look up the specific poll.  It seems to have been a TIME Poll for July 27-28.  1002 people participated in the poll, with the results + or – 3%.  In other words it was a statistically valid poll.

You can probably still see the complete results of the poll, if you wish, at the  website pollingreport.com, then go to the surveys on health.

The TIME poll appears to have been one of those mind-numbing polls to answer, with Health Care Reform only one portion of the poll, and the Health Care portion having as many as 21 questions.  Whoever agreed to participate spent a long time on the phone, hopefully at a time they weren’t busy with something else. 

The specific question whose responses led to the headlines was apparently the first one in the Health Care Reform category: “Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Obama is doing in each of these areas…handling health care policy.”   

The questions all appear to have been forced choice, rather than graded response (“on a scale of 1 to 10, etc.).  Judging from my own very limited experience in responding to such phone polls – I can recall one seemingly interminable one some years ago – there is no room for reflection, or changing one’s mind.  It is a test of first impressions given to a sample of about a thousand people nationwide.  Valid?  Sure.  But truly useful information?  Probably not, unless you want to find some way to formulate the questions and then interpret the information to fit your own bias.

Down the road in the 21 poll questions is this one: “Who do you trust more?”  Obama 46%, Republicans 32%, Unsure 14%.  Error + or – 3%.

The “Protests”

The days of rage” have apparently returned, NOT.

I put the word “protests” in quotes because the assorted expressions of anger at the back-home meetings, all breathlessly reported, are not protests at all…they are scripted, orchestrated and probably rehearsed street theatre. 

Personally, I think these “protests” will backfire on the organizers – most people want to hear rational discussion of the issues – and my guess is that as the month goes on the “protests”, while they will not disappear, will become less visible, including in their local areas.  I doubt that any of the politicians being targeted are befuddled by the protests.  Stay tuned.

“Protests” are not an exclusive province of the Right, of course.  Neither is the long term tactic of “P. R everything – disrupt – confuse – display anger” something new and innovative.  I put those words in quotes because they were part of an organizing strategy used against an organization I was part of in 1974, 35 years ago.  Years later I became a colleague of one of the organizers who had used those and other organizing tactics against us, and he gave me a copy of the notes he had taken at a training session he had attended in another state.

So, the protests we are seeing are really very old (and very tired) tactics.

Were I to be in a position to plan counter-“Protest” strategy, I would organize things to dissipate the energy/effectiveness of the protestors, without making the “protestors” seem like victims.  There are things that can be done.  I’ll feed in some suggestions….