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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Press Secretary Gibbs Tweets Gallup and Other Poll Data

It's gratifying to see that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted about Gallup data Monday. This was Gibbs’ first day as an official tweeter.

What did Gibbs tweet?

Lost during the snow days in DC - Perceptions of US leadership improved significantly from 08 to 09

This is a reference to Gallup’s data on how residents in countries around the world rate U.S. leadership. Such ratings are higher now than in the latter Bush years. The median job performance rating for U.S. leadership in 2009 is 51%. In 2008 the median was 34%. Which explains why Gibbs was eager to promote the results.

Update. Press secretary Gibbs, into his second day of tweeting on Tuesday, tweeted about another poll.

Here's why 63% want Congress to act on health care - BIG insurance rate increases and MORE coming

This tweet links to a CNN report of a Washington Post/ABC News poll. The Washington Post/ABC poll asked: “Do you think lawmakers in Washington should (keep trying to pass) a comprehensive health care reform plan, or should (give up on) comprehensive health care reform?” As Gibbs notes, 63% choose the first alternative.

One issue here. We don’t know for sure how Americans answering this question defined “comprehensive.” Does it refer to the “Obama/Democratic” healthcare plan variations passed by the House and Senate? Or just any comprehensive (bipartisan?) plan that might be passed at some point in the future? Given other poll results, I doubt that all Americans had in mind the idea to “. . . keep trying to pass Obama’s healthcare plan . . .” when they answered the question. Our Gallup polling a few weeks ago showed that a majority of Americans favored Congress putting the brakes on current efforts and considering alternatives.

These distinctions in exactly what Americans want to happen re healthcare reform legislation are important. Obama is hoping to meet with Republican leaders next week at the Blair House for a bipartisan get together on healthcare reform. Republicans are contemplating whether or not to show up. They want to know if the meeting is simply designed to tinker with existing bills or to start essentially from scratch.

Both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin in the news. Romney was involved in an altercation on an Air Canada flight from Vancouver down to L.A. His spokesman indicated that the person sitting in front of Romney's wife was asked to raise his “seat back." (How often many of us have wished that the person in front of us would raise their seat back!) The man apparently became agitated and words -- and some type of contact -- ensued. At any rate, across the continent Sarah Palin was making speeches and appearing in Daytona, Florida, and at the Daytona 500 race.

What’s the connection here?

These two constitute the current front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. At least by one Gallup measure. To be sure, a lot of Republicans -- perhaps rationally -- at this point say they don't have a preference for their party's nomination in 2012. And of course those who do make a choice will doubtless change their minds. Nevertheless, the news is that Romney and Palin came out at the top of the list at this point. John McCain comes in third. McCain's in the news as well. Fighting a touchy re-nomination battle in Arizona against conservative former talk show host J.D. Hayworth. It's unlikely that McCain will run again for president in 2012, regardless. Three percent of Republicans mention newly sworn in Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown as their top choice. (He's so new in the Senate that he doesn't yet have an official website.) Remember, the first primary/caucus of 2012 is less than two years away.

Speaking of the future, what is it that makes Americans most optimistic about the future of the U.S. -- looking ahead 20 years? The people of the country. What is it that makes Americans most pessimistic when they look ahead 20 years? The government.

Echoes of our data from last year show that Americans have more faith in the people of the country to make judgments about the issues facing the country than they do in the legislative or executive branches. Makes it harder for elected representatives to claim that they should be making decisions without consulting the people, of course.

Finally, if any sagacious reader has a firm hypothesis about why the people in Mississippi are almost three times as likely to attend church frequently as the people of Vermont, please let me know. I've offered several possible explanations in my analysis of the data. But perhaps you, the reader, have some additional insights?


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