Formerly respectable conservative think tank touts phony poll favoring government shutdown


A couple of months ago, I told you HERE about how the Heritage Foundation has been squandering its respectability of late by peddling nonsensical reports and flat-out falsehoods.

The basic problem, I noted, is that former Republican Sen. Jim DeMint is now at the helm at Heritage and, by his own admission, is more interested in “marketing” and “messaging” than in publishing credible scholarship.

And now we have another example of how Heritage has gone off the deep end. Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist for the Washington Post, DETAILS the situation:

[T]he Heritage Foundation and its sister institution Heritage Action have left intellectual integrity and political sanity behind in the rush for visibility and fundraising bucks. There is no better example of that than some terribly dishonest polling done to promote the fruitless effort to defund Obamacare by threatening to shut down the government.

Heritage Action polled this question: “If there was an effort in Congress to temporarily halt funding for the health care law, which of the following is the president most likely to do. . .?” Voters were given two options: President Obama would compromise or he’d insist on having it his way. More than 63 percent said he’d want to have it his way. Then the poll asked ”in order to get President Obama to agree to at least have a ‘time out’ on implementing the health care law and its full effects would you approve or disapprove of a temporary slowdown in non-essential government operations, which still left all essential government services operating” Lo and behold with that wording about 59 percent agreed.

This is nonsense of course. Republicans would have to shut down the government and be willing to do it for as long as it took, hoping the president would cave. And of course no definition of “non-essential” is given. The question asked has nothing to do with reality, yet in its press release Heritage Action pronounced that their polls show “the idea of defunding Obamacare is broadly supported. Moreover, the potential of a partial government shutdown does little to dampen the desire to stop the implementation of Obamacare.” Um, not really. “Government shutdown” wasn’t part of the question.

The poll is a pure advocacy poll, intended to drive a certain result by monkeying around with the question and the pool of respondents. (Notice that Jim DeMint the head of Heritage Foundation was pushing publicly for a government shutdown; conveniently Heritage Action follows up in quick order with this less than objective poll.)

Moreover, the poll asserts that it measures “swing districts.”…If anything it shows that if you ask a distorted question you can get evidence that ultra-safe districts won’t flip to the other party. Beyond that, the poll is frankly nonsense.

So, only by asking a misleading question, misrepresenting the results and going to select ultra-conservative districts could Heritage Action come up with a majority to support its suicide mission.








  1. Steverino

    The Heritage Foundation lost all hope of creditability when they brought in Jim DeMint as their leader. Krugman was right when he said DeMint “took the think out of think tank.”

  2. Pat, do you think these poll questions start out legit and then they change the wording till they get the results they are looking for? Or do they start out with a flawed question?

  3. Has anybody ever been polled over the phone for these political polls? I have been in the past, but its been a while. From what I recall, the choices I was given for my responses were never exactly representative of my position, so I had to pick the one that best met my perspective and often times it still wasn’t reflective or even near it.

    I remember back in the Bush days, particularly in the years just after 911, I would hear poll stats and come away saying who and where are they polling? I even heard news commentators wonder the same thing.

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