There are some big things currently going down in government. There’s an attempted impeachment targeting President Barack Obama to start. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) is basing his lawsuit on the argument that Obama has overstepped the reach of presidential power with his use of executive orders. However, the fact that we’re not seeing immigration reform or one of the many other items that need addressing reach Congress, but are instead looking at impeachment and (constitutional amendments), is interesting. The noise and outcry surrounding both of those items have something in common, actually. People’s responses to them are often either dulled down by disbelief, or tend to be in the theoretical, the conceptual; not considering such activities to be viable legislative or legal arguments. So that begs the question: Should we be taking this impeachment more seriously?
According to a recent poll, perhaps not. Public Policy Polling reports that 41 percent of voters who responded to the survey said that Boehner had a “legitimate” suit, while 51 percent believed the suit to be a political stunt. Fifty-six percent said it was a poor use of taxpayer money, and 36 percent said that it was a good use. A large majority tend to think the suit isn’t constructive, 34 percent saying it will help improve lives compared to 58 percent who say it won’t, and 63 percent polling that Congress should be working on job creation instead, while 30 percent think a suit should take precedence.
Looking at results of the poll, which was commissioned by Americans United for Change, it’s good to be up front about a few things. The first is Public Policy Polling’s reputation, and the second is the company that commissioned the poll — both especially salient given that Kantar found, ironically in a poll — that three out of four Americans consider public opinion polling to be biased. Alan Murray, president of Pew Research, argues that, “There is an element of this that people don’t trust anybody or any institution,” according to The Washington Post. Gallup can back that depressing sentiment up with a poll. Therefore, it’s better to be up front about potential bias and temper our understanding of a polls significance and implications as we go.
Public Policy Polling is considered by many to be left-leaning because of its penchant for conducting polls only for progressive or liberal organizations. On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal listed Public Policy Polling as one of the better polls in terms of accuracy and bias. It cited Costas Panagopoulos, a political scientist form Fordham University, as saying that PPP was the third most accurate of 28 firms he examined. It also cited Political Scientist Simon Jackman from Stanford who said that, comparatively, PPP “did really well” in terms of staying away from partisan bias. “Congress — and John Boehner personally — already have record low poll numbers. These new findings indicate that the lawsuit against Obama will just reinforce Boehner’s image as an out of touch leader with the wrong priorities,” said Tom Jensen, head of PPP, according to The Hill. In writing the report, he spoke about Republican’s more generally, saying that the survey showed “Americans think John Boehner’s lawsuit … is a wasteful stunt, and that it reflects misplaced priorities by him and Congress. It could even hurt Republicans at the polls this fall.”