POLITICS
10/01/2013 06:19 pm ET

HUFFPOLLSTER: Shutdown Shutters Census Bureau's Data

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The shutdown of the federal government took the Census website completely offline. A Quinnipiac poll finds bad news for Republicans. And Jimmy Kimmel finds a half dozen pedestrians who much prefer the Affordable Care Act to Obamacare. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, October 1, 2013.

SHUTDOWN SHUTTERS CENSUS.GOV - The government shutdown is causing dislocations for more than those counting on national parks and the National Zoo's panda cam. It has also caused a total shutdown of the websites hosted by the Census Bureau (including census.gov, the American Factfinder, data.gov), the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA) and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF). These agencies did more than simply remove their home pages, they appeared to redirect all published pages to an error message. All of the data reports and compilations that data professionals use on a daily basis are simply unavailable. Visitors to the Census website on Tuesday saw this message: "Due to the lapse in government funding, census.gov sites, services, and all online survey collection requests will be unavailable until further notice. Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at . Websites affected by this shutdown are all census.gov hosted websites." [Census.gov; see also NCES, NASS, NSF]

But not all FedStats agencies - The federal government includes 13 statistical agencies, each with their own web pages. HuffPollsters quick check found that sites for other agencies continued to operate, although many featured prominent messages warning that information would not be updated during the shutdown. An example from the **Bureau of Labor Statistics: "This website is currently not being updated due to the suspension of Federal government services**. The last update to the site was Monday, September 30. During the shutdown period BLS will not collect data, issue reports, or respond to public inquiries. Updates to the site will start again when the Federal government resumes operations. Revised schedules will be issued as they become available." [BLS]

Why the inconsistency? - Julia Ziegler: "The Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration sent out guidance to chief financial officers late last week informing agencies that some websites would need to be shut down. 'The mere benefit of continued access by the public to information about the agency's activities would not warrant the retention of personnel or the obligation of funds to maintain (or update) the agency's website during such a lapse,' said Lisa Schlosser, deputy administrator of the Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget. However, not all websites will be 'turned off.' 'If maintenance of the website is necessary to avoid significant damage to the execution of authorized or excepted activities (e.g., maintenance of the IRS website may be necessary to allow for tax filings and tax collection, which are activities that continue during an appropriations lapse), then the website should remain operational even if its costs are funded through appropriations that have lapsed.'" [Federal News Radio]

AMERICANS OPPOSE SHUTDOWN - Quinnipiac: “American voters oppose 72 - 22 percent Congress shutting down the federal government to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today….American voters are divided on Obamacare, with 45 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed, but they are opposed 58 - 34 percent to Congress cutting off funding for the health care law to stop its implementation….Looking at the 2014 Congressional races, voters pick a generic Democrat over a generic Republican candidate 43 - 34 percent, the widest Democratic margin measured so far.” [Quinnipiac]

NJ MYSTERY POLLSTER? - The National Review's The Corner blog published "internal polling" on the New Jersey Senate race that ** misses the lowest bar for methodological disclosure**. The article makes no mention of the firm that conducted the survey, includes no description of how voters were sampled, how data was collected (phone? interviewers? internet?), the number of interviews, survey dates or margin of sampling error. It also fails to include the text of any of the questions asked or any link to source documents. As such, HuffPollster is shocked, shocked, shocked to read that it shows a smaller lead for Cory Booker than any public poll released to date. [National Review]

CHOOSE: OBAMCARE OR THE ACA? - ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel: "When there are complicated issues to study, most people just side with whoever they usually side with, so I decided to conduct an experiment today. We sent a camera crew out onto Hollywood Boulevard to ask people which they thought was better, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Now, as you may know, Obamacare is just the nickname for the Affordable Care Act, they're the same thing. But, lo and behold, we found people who did not know that, and that didn't stop them from weighing in on it." The clip featured seven people who said they favored the ACA over Obamacare and one who favored Obamacare over the ACA. [HuffPost]

'Satisficing' in the wild - The Kimmel clip is, in some ways, a demonstration of a concept of "satisficing", first introduced to survey research by Stanford political scientist Jon Krosnick. "The idea," he wrote in 2000, "is that some respondents do just enough to satisfy the survey request, but no more." In this case, the people interviewed in the Kimmel segment had opinions about something called "Obamacare" that they were eager to share. That they were unfamiliar with the "Affordable Care Act" did not stop them from providing an answer. Some may have inferred that the two were different from the structure of the question, Had they been asked if there was a difference between Obamacare and the ACA, many may have been more tentative. [Krosnick]

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TUESDAY'S ‘OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Past government closures did little to impact American's views of presidents and congressional leaders. [Gallup]

-Greg Sargent sees a trap for Republicans in efforts to defund Obamacare. [WaPost]

-Ron Brownstein finds the Republicans more insulated against a shutdown backlash than in 1995. [National Journal]

-Sean Trende thinks casts doubt on "the prophecies of doom for Republicans" from the government shutdown. [RCP]

-Global Strategy Group (D) says voters perceive Republicans to be irresponsible and reckless. [GSG]

-The Monkey Cage finds that Congressional Democrats are tweeting about the shutdown, while their GOP counterparts focus on Obamacare. [WaPost]

-Jennifer Agiesta reviews the Kaiser Foundation results showing a lack of awareness of Obamacare. [AP]

-Insurance companies pitch themselves as solutions to "confusing," "uncertain," "scary" Obamacare. [CMAG/Kantar]

-A new Monmouth University poll finds Cory Booker leading by 13 in New Jersey, only slightly less than in polls from August and June. [Monmouth]

-Pew Research conducts a wide-ranging survey of Jews in America - plus, an explainer of how Pew chooses Jews. [Pew Research, sidebar]

-John Anzalone (D) and Glen Bolger (R) say the demise of pre-election polling has been greatly exaggerated. [Campaigns and Elections]

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