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We released a poll noting that Blue Dog Rep. Jim Cooper's constituents aren't happy with his handling of the health care issue. He has responded.

Private polls are inherently inaccurate, and most people disregard them.  He who pays the piper calls the tune, and the Daily Kos got what it wanted.

The whole premise of the poll is that I oppose a public option, and that is simply not true.  I have repeatedly said that I’m FOR a public option, and that there are multiple ways to do it.  I agree with Sen. Chuck Schumer’s position on the issue, and the Daily Kos is not attacking him. The Daily Kos can assign a false position to me if it wants, but it’s not accurate.

In addition, I did find things to like about this poll!  Only 23% want to replace me?  That’s great, since 34% VOTED to replace me in 2008. At this point, I might be gaining support.

But the real reason you have to doubt a poll like this is the following:  President Obama won my district with 56% of the vote. This poll shows his favorable number at 66%, up 10 points.  While I would like to think that President Obama’s numbers were that good, we all know that the polls have been bad for our President this month. The President has lost ground all over the country, but in the 5th district of Tennessee, he’s up by 10?  I wish it were true, but I doubt seriously that it is.

I will continue my fight for health reform.  We need to cover EVERYONE, and we need to do so responsibly so that we don’t bankrupt the country.  This has always been my position, this is the President’s position, and I will continue to work with him to get the job done.

First of all, glad to see Cooper is for the public option. But look at the polling -- nowhere did we tell respondents what Cooper's position was. The questions were, in order:

  1. If the 2010 election for Congress were held today would you definitely vote to reelect Jim Cooper would you consider voting for another candidate or would you definitely vote to replace Cooper?
  1. Do you approve or disapprove of Congressman Jim Coopers' actions on health care?
  1. Do you favor or oppose creating a new public health insurance plan that anyone can purchase?
  1. If Jim Cooper opposed a public health insurance option would that make you more or less likely to vote for him or would it have no real effect on your vote?

That's the order the questions were asked. We never said, "Jim Cooper opposes the public option" or anything along those lines. So if his constituents think Cooper is opposing the public option, that's his fault. Perhaps his constituents have missed all those strong statements of support for the public option from their congressman. But more likely than not, his mealy-mouthed hedged congress-speak statements on the matter have more than confused the voters in his district.

Furthermore, Obama's favorabilities have always been higher than the vote total he got last November (even if they've dropped of late). This isn't job approval (generally lower), it's favorabilities. Does Jim Cooper really argue that his district -- which is 30 percent non-white (Obama's strongest demographic) is really more anti-Obama? To add, if the Obama numbers are too optimistic, what would that say about Cooper's own favorabilities? Is he really arguing that he's in negative territory?

Research 2000 is a respected non-partisan pollster. We publish all questions. We publish all crosstabs and demographics. And we run all polls. In fact, we'll soon be running a health care poll from Nebraska that shows that Sen. Ben Nelson's constituents are pretty strongly opposed to the public option. So if the accusation is that I cooked these numbers, that's absurd.

But even if the sample is too Demcoratic, fact is that Democrats and Independents in your district aren't happy with you, Jim. The only people you are pleasing these days are the Republicans back home. That's not "bipartisan", that's partisan, in favor of the GOP.

But here's my challenge -- I love it when other pollsters, well, poll. So Jim, have yours run a similar poll. Let's compare numbers. Prove that you are truly in tune with your constituents, and that they're happy with your work. Then publish all the data, whatever the results.

But I know you won't. Fact is, your rhetoric hasn't matched your supposed support for the public option. That's why your constituents aren't happy with your performance on health care. Perhaps it's time you go out and let them know that you, indeed, are a strong support of a robust public option, and that you're fighting strongly on its behalf in Congress and within the Blue Dog caucus.

Do that, and the next time I commission a poll in your district, the numbers might look different.

p.s.

He who pays the piper calls the tune

So say the insurance lobbyists.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 11:43 AM PDT.

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