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CNN Poll: 82% of Americans Approve of the Idea of a BP Escrow Fund

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CNN released new polling Thursday with fascinating data on how Americans feel about the response to the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Using the poll's toplines (PDF), I've created a series of charts which present the data in a far more useful format.

First and foremost, it looks like Rep. Joe Barton (R-Big Oil) and the Republican Study Committee are pretty lonely in their belief that the creation of an escrow fund paid for by BP amounts to a shakedown by the federal government. The idea is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans:

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Since CNN doesn't provide the crosstabs, we don't know who the 18 percent are. I'd be willing to bet they're almost all Republicans.

Further solidifying the case that the Republican party is out of step on BP accountability, a solid majority of Americans feel President Obama is not being tough enough on the company.

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As you can see, just five percent think the president is being too tough on BP. With some conservatives rallying to BP's defense and Republican leadership continuing to scramble to contain Joe Barton's mess, Democrats would be wise to stay on the offensive.

The poll also looked at approval ratings for how President Obama, the federal government as a whole and BP itself are handling the disaster. While no entity is given high marks, President Obama's approval on the issue is far higher than the marks given to both BP and the federal government:

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Incredibly, just 13 percent of Americans approve of BP's handling of the crisis. A previous CNN poll conducted May 21-23 found that 24 percent approved. Again, since CNN does not provide crosstabs, we don't know anything about who these 13 percent of Americans are. Recent Rasmussen polling shows that they are likely to be Republican, white conservative, male and over the age of 65.

Also of note, in light of the chart above, is CNN's presentation of the polling data. Despite the fact that President Obama's handling of the situation is rated far higher than BP's or the federal government's, here is the headline CNN ran for the poll:

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While this is technically true, it is one of the least compelling findings of the poll. Obama's approval on the issue slipped 5 percent in three weeks, which is just outside the 4 percent margin of error.

While focusing the story on a minor slip in President Obama's approval on the issue may bring in links from conservative blogs, it is a disservice to CNN's readers. The poll contained far more relevant and newsworthy findings that would have made more compelling headlines had they chosen to go that route.