Rep. Alan Grayson and former Rudy Giuliani staffer and king of the false equivalencies Wingnut author John Avlon had a little dust up over polls on Jo
July 8, 2010

Rep. Alan Grayson and former Rudy Giuliani staffer and king of the false equivalencies Wingnut author John Avlon had a little dust up over polls on John King's show. Grayson took Avlon to task over a recent Gallup poll which shows President Obama's approval rating down to 38% with independent voters. What I wish he'd have called him out for is his claim that voters are more worried about the debt than jobs and the economy. Since he used the words "independent voters" and didn't say which poll he was citing it's impossible to say if he was cherry picking some statistics.

The larger problem with what Avlon did here is one that Digby pointed out a few weeks ago.

Conflation Fail:

FAIR does an overview of the polls which show that the beltway obsession with the deficit is not, in fact, shared by the country.

But I did want to highlight this one piece of evidence supporting my contention that to the extent people do care about --- they just don't understand it. [...]

This is one of the reasons why I have been so frantic that the administration was feeding into the deficit hysteria. They don't seem to get that people don't actually care about "the deficit," they care about "the economy" and they fail to make a distinction between the two, especially since we have right wing wrecking crew that makes a point of conflating the two.

It's a problem.

Yes it is and people like Avlon here hyping fears over the deficit is just another example.

Transcript via CNN below the fold.

YELLIN: OK, John, I'm going to put this to you because you are our resident expert on Independence. Again, the support among Independents has plummeted for President Obama from 56 percent to 38 percent. What one factor do you attribute that to?

AVLON: The number one issue for Independent voters right now according to a recent poll is the debt, the federal debt. The second issue is terrorism then health insurance costs then unemployment.

So the debt, it's a mess we're hearing over and over is the spending. That's what's hurting this administration. There are different elements of the Obama coalition. He won independent voters by 8 percent in 2008, but that plummeting, a nearly 20 percent drop over the last year, that is not a subtle sign.

It's a sign Democrats are in trouble all over the country as well. Recent poll coming out showing they're down 12 points in matchups against Republicans looking into the fall so this is a real issue.

YELLIN: John, let me --

GRAYSON: Can I jump in here, Jessica?

YELLIN: Go ahead, yes.

GRAYSON: OK, first, with regard to the matchups, the matchups have been dead even for a year. Second, with regard to the Gallup poll report, you're comparing a blip up to 56 percent a year ago to a blip down right now to 38 percent.

When, in fact, the president's numbers have been extremely even among Independent voters for a year and a half now, between 40 percent and 50 percent. Sampling causes sampling error. That's what you're seeing right now. It's not as if the president's standing --

YELLIN: This swing is a sampling error, sir?

GRAYSON: Well, listen to what I said -- the president's approval rating among independents has been between 40 percent and 50 percent, very steadily now for a year and a half.

You had a blip up a year ago temporarily for a week. Now you're having a blip down through sampling error, temporarily, for another week, and you're making that into some kind of national story.

The national story ought to be the president has steady support among Independents, between 40 percent and 50 percent, and that hasn't changed for a year and a half.

YELLIN: John, you're shaking your head.

AVLON: I just think the overall trend is very clear. There is a decline not only among the president but among Democrats. Look, NPR poll came out last week showing that in the 60 most competitive districts in the country currently held by Democrats. Yours being one of them that currently Independent voters are swinging towards Republicans by 50 percent to 29 percent. That's not a subtle message. It's there. You can't just deny it.

GRAYSON: My district - by 14.

AVLON: Your specific district, maybe the case, but in aggregate, there's bad news for Democrats when it comes to Independent voters turning away.

GRAYSON: That's not true. It's not what the polls are showing.

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