POLITICS
12/14/2010 10:44 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Baffling Wave Of Tax-Cut Polling Produces Wildly Different Conclusions

If you've been following the various polling reports on how the general public feels about the tax-cut package that President Barack Obama brokered and which might, in some form, make it through the legislative process, then you are probably lost and confused. Please fire a flare gun into the air, and we will send rescuers to your area.

Back on Dec. 2, CBS put out a poll that signaled a rough road ahead for anyone who wanted to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for everybody.

Twenty-six percent overall support! That's the same proportion of people who believe trees have spiritual energy. More people approve of the way BP handled the oil spill.

With all the effort being put toward getting this tax cut compromise passed, surely we could repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Surely we could legalize weed. And, okay, I admit it: I am a little bit interested in exploring this whole "spiritual energy of trees" thing, because what if the Lorax was right?

But what if the Lorax is actually skewing that poll result? Because depending on how much time has passed, and who asks the question, and what question they ask, the support for the tax-cut compromise is all over the map. Let me pass the mike to HuffPost Pollster's Emily Swanson:

As is typical of any polling on specific issues, different wording can produce vastly different results, which can be quite difficult to interpret. For example, the option of extending the cuts for everyone is not the least popular option in the tax debate itself. While most public polls have shown that extending the tax cuts only for those making less than $250,000 is by far the most popular option, polls have shown that allowing all of the cuts to expire would be even less popular. The same CBS poll found that only 14 percent wanted to let the cuts expire for everyone.

As Emily goes on to note, when Crossroads GPS -- a Rove/Gillespie joint -- is asking the question, here's what happens: "when presented with only two options, 65 percent of likely voters would prefer to extend the cuts and only 29 percent would allow them to expire."

This brings us, inexorably, to Monday's Washington Post/ABC News poll on the matter. Good news for fans of tax-cut compromises: the package now has "broad bipartisan support" -- that is, "About seven in ten Americans back the tax deal negotiated last week by President Obama and congressional Republicans."

Now for the twist:

The high bipartisan support for the package masks more tepid public approval for some of the main components of the agreement that comes before a key Senate vote Monday afternoon.

A slender 11 percent of those polled back all four of the deal's primary tax provisions: an across-the-board extension of Bush-era tax cuts, additional jobless benefits, a payroll tax holiday and a $5 million threshold for inheritance taxes. Just 38 percent support even two of the components.

I guess this is why this tax-cut compromise is so brilliant: in terms of policy, it may be a turd sandwich, but most people are pretty convinced that they'll be getting the bread or the condiments.

I think someone should frame the question like this: "Are you in favor of the tax-cut compromise, even though we're all going to have the same old stupid arguments about this matter in 2012 and it will appear that nobody has learned a blessed thing about what America needs in terms of policy, or would you prefer we came to your house right now and shot you in the face?"

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Most Americans Back Tax-Cut Deal Most Americans Hate [Wonkette]

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