Health Care Poll-Cooking: AP Headlines 'Tax the Rich' Finding, Ignores Opposition to ObamaCare, Other Key Items

November 17th, 2009 1:19 PM
CookingWithAP1109That the Associated Press's basement-level poll-cooking and poll-reporting standards are quite low, and quite agenda-driven, might as well be an article of faith by this time.

But the wire service-commissioned poll on health care, and Erica Warner's report on it (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; HT JammieWearingFool via Instapundit; the full poll report in PDF format is here) plumbs new depths of partisanship while making errors of both omission and commission.

Warner and AP want the big takeaway to be that taxing "the rich" is the idea the public overwhelmingly favors to pay for ObamaCare -- never mind that the same public also opposes the plan itself.

What follows is a graphic containing selected paragraphs from Werner's report:


Werner's excerpted text compared to the actual poll betrays a fundamental misunderstanding that sadly permeates most discussions of income taxation:

  • Werner and AP turned the actual poll question about income taxes, which involved "increasing income taxes paid by people who earn more than $250,000 a year," into "Tax the Rich." It's really "Tax the Incomes of Anyone Who Happens to Have a Very High-Earning Year." It only coincidentally has something to do with going after those who are actually wealthy, i.e., "the rich." It's not exactly a secret that quite a few high-earners are anything but rich, for a variety of reasons.
  • Of course, the "objective" Warner somehow couldn't restrain her enthusiasm in how her misstated finding "will be welcome news for House Democrats." This Erica gal is really talented; her ability to wave pompoms and type at the same time is a sight to behold.
  • Werner compounded her obvious conceptual misunderstanding of the difference between income and net worth by highlighting the quote from Ms. Rondthaler, who seems to believe that anyone with very high earnings has a whole bunch of cash just lying around doing nothing that could be sent to Uncle Sam with no personal consequences, and no effect on the overall economy.

As to more important findings in the poll -- all totally ignored by Werner -- here is some of what JammieWearingFool noted:

Of course what the Associated Press does not even mention in their story is probably the most relevant part: "In general, do you support, oppose or neither support nor oppose the health care reform plans being discussed in Congress? (IF SUPPORT/OPPOSE Is that strongly support/oppose or somewhat support/oppose?" To no surprise that's opposed by 43-41%. Eleven percent neither support or oppose and 4% "don't know."

Also conveniently left out of their story is the response to whether people should be penalized if they do not buy the government-run health care: Sixty-four percent oppose. Why do you suppose that was left out?

Also left out was of the respondents, 37% are unemployed or retired. No wonder they want someone to pick up the tab.

Forty-two percent think the economy will get worse if this scam is shoved down our throats, while 28% think it will improve. Again, this is left out of the story.

..... Another question left out: "How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right – just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time?" A total of 24% said all or most of the time. And we're going to trust them?

Fans often complain about "home cooking," where the referees' calls seemingly tend to favor the home team over its opponents. In this case, Werner's and AP's home-cooking nullified the effect of every play it didn't like.

Cross-posted at