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Summit Poll Spinning

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My column for this week looks at surprisingly extensive discussion of poll results at last weeks health care reform summit. My conclusion:

In some ways, the summit's polling conversation mirrors the way
pundits and partisans have talked about public opinion all along. We
have certainly not suffered from a shortage of polls. According to its
editor, Tom Silver, the nonpartisan Polling Report has
published results of health policy questions asked (or tracked) 1,168
times since March 2009.

But rather than accept the often conflicting hopes, anxieties and preferences
those polls measure, compounded by less-than-universal
awareness
of the policy details, partisans prefer to cherry-pick
whatever number purports to show the "American people" on their side.

Please click through to read the whole thing.

As noted in the column, Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport has already published a review of the origins of the poll numbers referenced at the summit (to the extent that he could identify them). Two related items that appeared over the weekend:  Yesterday's New York Times includes as assessment by Dalia Sussman of the differences that question wording can make in health reform polling. Her review drew a reaction from AAPOR member Jan Werner.