Emanuel and AP: Spinning the Polls

As the science of political polling advances why are spinmeisters working overtime to stay ahead of the pollsters? There are two correlative reasons. First, there appears to be a relationship between polls and fundraising (though Mitt Romney, seemingly mired forever in single digits continues to succeed in raising money). Second because the presidential primaries are devolving into a single day, winner-take-the-nomination, contest which can be affected by polls that would otherwise balance themselves out over a longer period. It all boils down to one fact: some in the news business — those I call the “527 Media” who have evolved past liberal bias and become political activists — are desperate to ensure a Democratic candidate wins in 2008.

Consider the Associated Press which — as I have documented before — appears to be an arm of Rahm Emanuel’s Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and/or Team Clinton. Emanuel, a five-year top political strategist in the Clinton White House, is now a third-term Illinois congressman and chairman of the DCCC.

In an April 11 memorandum, Emanuel began by saying, “As we return from the district work period, the Congress continues to have an historic opportunity to change direction in Iraq, protect and provide for American troops, and pressure Iraqis to take responsibility for their own country.” He wants a new narrative: that the Congress has support of the American people and that George W. Bush is under siege: “His approval rating streak is now in the ballpark of Richard Nixon’s in the months leading up to his resignation.” Because, in Emanuel’s narrative, the president is so weak, he should consent to “meaningful negotiations” with the supposedly stronger Congressional Dems that, “…should move us to a new direction in Iraq.” But Emanuel and the rest of the Dems, will only negotiate “meaningfully” on one “new direction” for Iraq: “out.”

So just how strong are the Congressional Dems and how weak is the president? According to an Associated Press story published the day before Emanuel’s memo, “Public approval for Congress is at its highest level in a year as Democrats mark 100 days in power and step up their confrontation with President Bush over his handling of the Iraq War, the issue that overshadows all others.”

Team Clinton — oops, sorry, AP — goes on: “Overall approval for Congress is 40 percent. The survey shows Bush’s approval ratings remain in the mid-30 percent range, that a striking 39 percent strongly disapproves his handling of foreign policy and the war on terror, and that the public has scant hopes that the president and Congress can work together to solve the country’s problems.” Heck, if it’s that bad why doesn’t the president resign just as Emanuel hopes? Because it’s not that bad for him or nearly so good for the “cut and run” Dems. And provably so if you read real pollsters like Gallup.

The day before AP helped set up Emanuel’s exhortation to his troops, Gallup released its own polls which show the president’s ratings up by four points over his end of March numbers. Being fair, Gallup noted that Bush’s seven-month dismal ratings were surpassed only by Harry Truman’s (October 1950 – December 1952) and Richard Nixon’s (July 1973 and August 1974). Gallup, being a pollster and not a political activist organization, didn’t add AP’s comment about the Bush-Nixon comparison. Who in AP’s Washington bureau is Emanuel’s best pal? We aim to find out. Meanwhile, it’s essential to compare what Gallup said about Congress with what AP and Emanuel said.

The April 10 AP story said, “…the AP poll indicates the public wants Congress to push for an end to a war that has claimed the lives of more than 3,200 U.S. troops.” The following day, Emanuel — not pointing to AP or anything else that supports his conclusion — wrote that, “Despite the attacks from the White House, nearly 70% of the American people continue to support our plan for a new direction in Iraq and a responsible, strategic redeployment of American troops over the course of the next year.”

Think about that: there are no data, no polls whatsoever that show that Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq before the next presidential election. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. To the contrary, polls dating back to just after the November 2006 presidential election show that Americans support neither the president’s old plans nor any Democratic plan to withdraw from Iraq by any date certain. What Americans want is to win the war and then come home.

Gallup’s data contradict Emanuel’s conclusions indirectly. According to Gallup’s report, “Thirty three% of Americans approve and 60% disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Congressional approval is up five points since last month, but is still slightly lower than the 37% approval recorded a few weeks after Democrats assumed control of Congress this year.” So where is the 70% approval of “cut and run” that Emanuel states with such authority? Nowhere. Not even in the AP poll which AP reported, “The public opinion [is] split…on the issue of Democratic handling of Iraq — 40 percent approve, 57 percent disapprove.”

Instead of hinting that President Bush should resign, AP should be asking, why shouldn’t Emanuel resign and whoever is his accomplice inside AP be fired?