As you may have observed, the Obama administration -- like all administrations -- is pretty disdainful of polling. Speaking at a White House press briefing this week, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs chided CBS's Chip Reid for even bothering to bring up discouraging poll numbers, responding "We're way too busy to sit around looking at polls."
But, as Sam Stein and Julian Hattem report, while the White House leaves the work up to the DNC, they are nevertheless way into polling. Way, way into polling:
Through June 9, 2010, the administration, via the Democratic National Committee, has spent at least $4.45 million on the services of seven different pollsters, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. (The Huffington Post looked into only those expenditures that totaled more than $5,000.)
That total represents only 18 months into the administration. During the first 24 months of the Bush administration, the Republican National Committee spent $3.1 million on polling according to a 2003 study done by Brookings. During the 2005-2006 years of the Bush administration, the RNC spent just north of $1.23 million on "surveys," "focus groups," and "polling," according to an analysis of Center for Responsive Politics data (they spent millions, instead, on telemarketing services). So far this cycle, the RNC has spent slightly more than $1 million on those same activities.
I know, I know, you have to do everything you can to keep all sectors of the economy stimulated. Still, we can't help but reflect on all those times that the administration insisted that they just weren't interested in following the advice of polls. So, Ben Craw created a highlight reel, of President Barack Obama and Robert Gibbs issuing various soundbites about polls. Is it just me, or do some of the disparaging things they have to say about polls sound as if they were pretty ruthlessly poll-tested?
Video produced by Ben Craw