Guy Benson

Behold, dispositive proof that the Democrat-media complex's established meme is undeniably correct: These damned intransigent Republican wingnuts are nihilistic extremists:
 

Americans are unimpressed with their political leaders' handling of the debt ceiling crisis, with a new CBS News poll showing a majority disapprove of all the involved parties' conduct, but Republicans in Congress fare the worst, with just 21 percent backing their resistance to raising taxes.

Approval drops to 31 percent for the Democrats in Congress, and only 21 percent of the people surveyed said they approved of Republicans' handling of the negotiations, while 71 percent disapprove.


I'll admit it: When I glanced over the bottom-line results of this survey, I was tempted to just throw up my hands and pack it in.  According to the numbers, 71 percent of voters disapprove of Republican efforts to uphold their central campaign promise on taxes and spending -- indicating that Democrats' deliberate and repeated refusal to offer any concrete solutions has won the day.  Confronted with these deeply depressing results, I reckoned that we're so screwed that I flirted with the notion of leaving work, grabbing a slurpee, and sitting by the pool for the rest of the week.  But then I recalled a salient fact:  This is a CBS News poll.  Roughly translated, "additional investigation is warranted."  Upon further review, the fine print, survey sample, and wording of this poll render it far less alarming than I initially assumed, for four reasons -- the fourth of which is most important:


(1) The weighted sample gives Democrats a +11 party ID edge.  As a point of reference, in the 2010 House elections, Republicans won the popular vote by seven percentage points.  Admittedly, this is far from an ideal apples-to-apples comparison, but it raises questions about how CBS settled on this absurd sample breakdown.  Even in the great Obama wave of 2008, Democrats didn't even approach a +11 partisan advantage.

(2) CBS surveyed adults; not likely, or even registered, voters.  It's widely accepted that polls of adults are far less predicitive of real electoral or political outcomes, as they solicit opinions from many more unattached, uninformed, and uninvolved Americans.  In other words, if Joe Smith -- who pays no attention to politics and doesn't vote -- decides Republicans are the bad guy in the complex debt ceiling fracas, John Boehner probably isn't going to lose much sleep over Mr. Smith's verdict.

(3) In their write-up of the poll, CBS mentions that fully 51 percent of the Republicans they actually deigned to survey responded that they disapprove of their own party's actions in this debate.  What we don't know is, why?  Are half of all Republicans holding out hope that Boehner, Cantor, McConnell & Co will cave on tax hikes?  Last week's Rasmussen poll suggests that hypothesis is...unlikely.  Or could it be that quite a few Republicans are upset that GOP leaders haven't demanded deeper cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling?  Or that some Republicans don't support any raise of the debt limit, and are dismayed that their party's leadership has all but conceded that point from day one?  Or that other Republicans are put off by Sen. Mitch McConnell's convoluted contigency plan that reeks of insider politics (which is not a commentary on its merits)?  As the internals indicate, independents are pretty damn unimpressed with both parties' approach to these deliberations.  Democrats' numbers are boosted by far greater loyalty among their own party faithful.  Why?  We don't know.

(4) In response to point three, defenders of this poll may argue that since it didn't endeavor to address the question of "why," my criticism is unfair.  This would be a compelling point if CBSNews.com's story about the poll (you know, the one with the big, damaging headline for Republicans) didn't feature this lede:


Americans are unimpressed with their political leaders' handling of the debt ceiling crisis, with a new CBS News poll showing a majority disapprove of all the involved parties' conduct, but Republicans in Congress fare the worst, with just 21 percent backing their resistance to raising taxes.


There is absolutely zero statistical evidence supporting this claim, yet it's enshrined in CBS' opening graf.  Yes, only 21 percent of the public (based on the skewed sample -- see points 1 and 2) approve of Congressional Republicans' handling of the debt negotiations, but the poll itself does not mention the word "taxes" -- or even the more Democrat-friendly term, "revenues."  As established in point three above, CBS' poll doesn't ask why Americans disapprove of the GOP's approach to this issue.  And yet, this fact didn't stop CBS from simply inventing and assigning a reason -- which conveniently aligns with the Democrat-media complex's established meme: These damned intransigent Republican wingnuts are nihilistic extremists!  


CBS News polling: Caveat Emptor.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography