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Polling the hell out of America
That may very well be true, and Gibbs & Co are perhaps right to mock the polling-obsessed media culture that is sometimes really ridiculous. But if they are too busy to look at polls, they certainly aren’t too poor to pay for them. While they routinely chide members of the press for obsessing about the day-to-day temperamental swings of the American public, behind the scenes the White House has poured plenty of money into conducting its own public opinion polls. The fact is that the Obama administration spends more on polls than Bush did: in the first 18 months in office, it has spent at least $4.45 million on the services of seven different pollsters, according to recently published records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a lot of money for someone who “doesn’t worry so much about polls”, considering that during the first 24 months of the Bush administration, $3.1 million was spent on same purpose. The inconvenient truth is that Obama’s camp is polling the hell out the nation, at times outmatching even the notoriously poll-driven Clinton administration…
The expenditures seem at odds with the image that the administration and the president project publicly. During the past few months, Gibbs has repeatedly dismissed speculation that polling played a role in the federal government’s decision to file a lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law, the president’s economic agenda, and the approach to health care reform. But – if you just look at these numbers – it seems very clear that the administration is far more invested and interested in the flow of public opinion than it lets on. After all, it would be foolish to believe Obama and his associates are operating off pure conviction, wouldn’t it?
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