The Stimulus: Not So Stimulating Among Voters


Matt Welch mentions below that, contrary to the yea-sayers who believe the stimulus is wildly popular with voters and essential to the GOP's future political viability, "the numbers ain't that great for the giveaway."

Here's some more details, from the pollster Rasmussen:

Forty-two percent (42%) of the nation's likely voters now support the president's plan, roughly one-third of which is tax cuts, with the rest new government spending. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 39% are opposed to it and 19% are undecided. Liberal voters overwhelmingly support the plan while conservatives are strongly opposed.

Last week, support for the President's plan was at 45% and opposition at 34%.

So support is dropping for the plan and oppostion is growing. At the same, voters realize they've got a limited say in the matter: "At the same time, expectations that the plan will quickly become law have increased."

In an earlier Rasmussen survey, respondents were pro-tax cuts:

Fifty-seven percent (57%) say it's more important for tax policy to help the economy than to make sure everyone pays their fair share of taxes while 37% hold the opposite view.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) are concerned that the government will raise spending too much in the coming year while only 17% are concerned about too much tax cutting. Only 16% expect their own taxes to actually decline.

Jeez, I hope somebody on Capitol Hill is listening. And to this, too, from last year, after George W. Bush's much-ballyhooed stimulus package flopped like Rod Blagojevich's charm offensive:

If another stimulus package is passed, just 17% believe the economy will get better and 21% say it will get worse. Most voters-54%–say that if another stimulus package is passed, the economy will be about the same a year from today. These general views of the stimulus package were largely shared across partisan and demographic lines. …

A majority of both men and women think the best economic policy is to reduce regulation and taxes. So do a majority of voters in all age brackets.

More here.

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  1. Matt,

    The proles don’t matter. Bah! Let them eat cake!

    Hey! Wait a fucking minute here! I’m a prole! Son of a . . .


    Gallup’s got support at 52%, opposition at 37%. That’s bigger than Obama’s margin of victory.

    Averaging the two yields 48.5% in favor, 39.5% opposed.

    Did we learn nothing about cherry-picking polls from this election?

  3. Reporting on poll results without including the actual question(s) asked is worthless but all too common.

  4. As with other things, the opposition lets their own corruption get in the way of winning. Instead, they’re conflicted between opposing something and trying to get a taste.

    Here’s a table showing how Los Angeles wants to spend its “fair share”. That helped reify for me how much of a scam this is. Instead of using charts like that for the localities where people live and using other means to come up with a pro-American solution, expect the GOP to try to arrange things so that money flows to their contributors.

    And, expect the “libertarians” at Reason to support “special” subsidies along the same lines.

  5. joe-
    ‘Likely voters’ is somewhat more reliable than ‘daily tracking’
    (although ‘likely voters’ this phase of the cycle is largely meaningless.

    I also liked this part from your link

    Although former President George W. Bush enjoyed high overall job approval ratings at the time he first sent U.S. troops to Iraq in 2003 (and had majority support for the decision to begin the war),

    ‘the people’ know jack shit. But it’s better than any alternative.

  6. OLS,

    Look, I know you must be a troll or something, but do you seriously believe that any libertarian would be pro-subsidy especially from a bill like this?

    Seriously, wtf? Did a Reason contributor pick on you in gym class or something?

    Ok, had to get that out, I’ll just ignore you from now on.

  7. Tyler: thank you for your reasoned response. However, Reason isn’t really a libertarian site. Libertarians oppose subsidies, yet Reason has printed dozens and dozens of articles promoting a “special” kind of subsidy: that given to the employers of illegal labor. That labor has a huge financial and non-financial cost; Reason has tried to handwave away the first and AFAIK has never even mentioned the second.

    For instance, giving a foreign government PoliticalPower inside the U.S. is a huge cost, yet Reason has yet (AFAIK) to acknowledge that cost or offer a way to reduce it.

  8. Kolohe,

    ‘Likely voters’ is somewhat more reliable than ‘daily tracking’ Depends on the likely voter model, and whether the ‘daily tracking’ uses LVs or RVs or adults.

    Looking back over the presidential election, Gallup did a much better job than Rasmussen.

    ‘the people’ know jack shit. Sure, but this is a thread about politics and public opinion.

  9. Many, many, many polls about the stimulus package here:

  10. Reason has always been against illegal immigrant labor, Wacko. They’ve always been strong advocates of removing the boot you so love from the necks of immigrant workers – you know, the boot that serves to drive down wages for both Paperwork-Deprived America-Joiners and the native-born workers who compete with them for jobs.

    You, on the other hand, have long argued that the boot should be pressed down harder.

    If you don’t support the liberalization of immigration laws, you are anti-worker and pro-cheap, exploited labor.

  11. joe stop being a denialist. The facts are there in this poll. you can’t question the data.

  12. Which poll, adrian?

    The one showing a 15 point margin in favor? The one showing a 3 point margin in favor? Some of the other ones in the link I provided, all of which also show a majority supporting it?

    I see this a lot among right-wingers – the misconception that using phrases the hear liberals use, without bothering to check and make sure they’re being used a way that makes sense.

    No, adrian, I can’t deny the data. Good thing it all supports my position. Funny how that keeps working out that way.

  13. Joe, I’ll bet those opposing the plan are calling their congressmen at ten or twenty times the rate as those favoring it. Intensity of belief matters for something. As soon as the new American Idol is crowned, some ignorant fools may wake up and realize their country is being stolen from them.

  14. James Ard,

    I’ll bet the people who oppose the plan are more likely to call their Congressmen than the people who support it, too.

    That’s always the way. Ever go to a Planning Board hearing and see an abutter say, “I don’t much care one way or the other if he builds that housing development,” or “I really like the idea of that house being demolished and replaced by a two-family?”

    Intensity of belief matters for something. It counts for much more in a situation of rough partisan or ideological parity. According to Gallup, there are now 5 states, accounting for 2% of the country’s population, where self-identified Republicans outnumber self-identified Democrats. Texas is blue, btw.

  15. Anecdotally, no one I know, of any political stripe, thinks this stimulus package is a good idea.


    Enjoy the feeling that America loves the Dems while you can. I think the GOP is about to win a house back on the next six months alone. This crap isn’t going to help mitigate the recession at all. And more of the same is to come. What happened to all of that fiscal responsibility that you said they had?

  16. “Forty-two percent (42%) of the nation’s likely voters now support the president’s plan, roughly one-third of which is tax cuts, with the rest new government spending.”

    If that description of the plan is how it was told to those being polled, that is deceptive.

    Part of what they are counting as “tax cuts” are payments to people who pay no income taxes.

    That should be properly categorized as government spending for welfare payments.

  17. I guess we’ll see about the next six months. You think it’s 1993, eh? Could be, could be. I think it’s 1933. We’ll see.

    Desperate times call for desperate measures, Pro Lib.

    What happened to all of that fiscal responsibility that you said they had?

    One of the biggest reasons I am a deficit hawk during ordinary times is because we need to have the debt capacity for times like this. We’re supposed to pay off debt during good times, go a little into the red during slowdowns, and really crank it up only during extreme economic situations like the one we’re in. Instead, except for 1998-2000, we’ve been running small debts during good times, and going deep into debt during ordinary slowdowns.

    It would be awfully nice if we were starting this pump-priming at half the current debt load.

  18. Part of what they are counting as “tax cuts” are payments to people who pay no income taxes.

    Payroll taxes aren’t taxes.

    Unless it’s a Social Security thread.

  19. it was an AGW joke joe, relax.

  20. “Payroll taxes aren’t taxes.”

    Payroll taxes are taxes that are also paid by those who DO pay income taxes as well as those who don’t pay income taxes.

    If the goal is to cut payroll taxes, then just reduce the rate for everybody.

    Furthermore, payroll taxes are supposed to fund social security and medicare. Social securty benefits are already highly redistributive to begin with since those lower on the income scale get a much higher benefit relative to their contributions than is the case for higher income individuals.

    And the income tax funds services like military protection that are benefiting those who pay no income taxes as well as those who do.

    So yes, those folks who pay no income taxes who will be getting checks back from the government are getting a welfare payment – there’s no two ways about it.

  21. joe @ 4:21
    “You think it’s 1993, eh? Could be, could be. I think it’s 1933. We’ll see.”

    So does that mean that we can expect the “new” New Deal to help turn our recession into Great Depression Pt 2 and extend it for another 10 years?

  22. Gil, none of what you wrote supports your conclusion.

    toddb, I hope you enjoyed the Kool Aid.

  23. “Gil, none of what you wrote supports your conclusion.”

    On the contrary, every word of it does exactly that.

  24. As usual, joe is an idiot.

    Reason smears anyone who opposes illegal labor. Since their dream of open borders will never happen, that means that they’re taking actions that – in the real world, not the fantasy world – have the impact of helping IllegalImmigration.

    I support reducing illegal labor by enforcing our laws. I don’t support keeping illegal labor around, I support encouraging them to return home and reform their own countries. Both of those are the only humane, intelligent, pro-worker positions. Anything else causes endless problems.

    If you respond, please make sure that your response is based in reality and not in a libertarian fantasy world.

  25. Aw…come on Joe, you’ve got to give me more than that. UCLA just completed another study that shows the New Deal wasn’t such a Good Deal. You can disagree, but to dismiss it as Kool Aid just shows that you aren’t giving it serious thought.

    The matter is not as settled as our vaunted public school system would like us to assume it is.

  26. Since their dream of open borders will never happen…

    As opposed to your dream of ending the centuries-old practice of people coming into the US from Mexico to work. That’s, like, right around the corner – but the idea of immigration liberalization, which just happened in the late 1980s, is a nonstarter.

    Uh huh.

  27. On the contrary, every word of it does exactly that.

    Just as long as we all use the Gil Martin Short Bus definitions of “taxes” and “welfare,” and ignore the fact that you changed the subject from “payroll taxes aren’t taxes.”

  28. “the fact that you changed the subject from “payroll taxes aren’t taxes.”

    I never said payroll taxes aren’t taxes.

    What I did waw explain why people who pay no income taxes and get a check from the government are still getting a welfare payment regardless of whether they pay payroll taxes or not.

  29. It is time to let twelve year olds vote. It’s their money we’re stealing, after all. I was just harrangued by a kid who said the word trillion like it really needs to be said. Triii…ilion.

  30. Mr. Gillespie, I know your post is about the favorability of Obama’s stimulus plan, but your quote — “Jeez, I hope somebody on Capitol Hill is listening…” — reveals so much about you and the pollster class. Listening to what? The opinions of 1,000 likely voters who are responding to a temporal issue that a pollster, by the very act of polling you, infuses with artificial importance? Fareed Zakaria writes, “Pollsters have become our modern soothsayers, interpreting public opinion surveys with the gravity with which their predecessors read chicken entrails. Of course, polls, like chicken entrails, can be ambiguous or people can change their minds — which happens from time to time — at which point there is a lemminglike rush to the newly popular view.”

    Given that the stimulus plan flew to approval faster than you can say, “No time for public discourse,” the results of the Rasmussen poll you quote with such confidence are even less impressive. If you call me on the phone and ask me to comment on something based — in all likelihood — only on the context which you, the pollster, provide, chances are excellent that I am going to comment based on ignorance, the time of day, how hungry I am, whether Reason pissed me off that morning, and whether or not it’s tax season.

    Like the sensible man you purport to be, you should dismiss all polls. They are not filler for the absence of good communication between elected officials and the citizens they serve. I challenge you to write about modern political issues without resorting to the lazy excitement inherent in polls. My hope is that your output won’t come to a grinding halt.

  31. Bush said it wasn’t ordinary times during his administration, too. That’s why he allowed torture and invaded two nations.

    Hey, this is like going Godwin, only sans Nazis.

  32. It wasn’t ordinary times during George Bush’s administration.

    You don’t have to think September 12, 2001 was just another day at work to object to what Bush did.

  33. A majority of both men and women think the best economic policy is to reduce regulation and taxes.

    Burn the heretics!

  34. Come on Nick,
    Bush didn’t listen to polls or public opinion when it got in the way of his ideology. Why should Obama?

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