After the release of the seventh CMP Planned Parenthood baby parts video, it seemed to me as if there should have been enough time for this saga to sink into the national consciousness and raise some questions. (At a minimum.) That’s why it was rather surprising when I was flipping through the news and noticed the results of this Reuters/Ipsos poll which claims, in the headline, Americans back federal funds to Planned Parenthood for health services. (Yahoo News)
Americans broadly support providing federal funding for free women’s health exams, screenings and contraception services, a Reuters/Ipsos poll has found, suggesting that Republicans could be in risky territory if they continue criticizing Planned Parenthood as a key part of 2016 campaigns.
Support for federal funding of Planned Parenthood itself to provide those women’s health services was even stronger, according to the Reuters/Ipsos released on Wednesday.
The lede has all the things you’d expect to see from a liberal e-mail alert on the Ready for Hillary network: Americans support Planned Parenthood. They support continued funding. Republicans had better cool it on criticizing the organization or they’ll be in risky territory. It was very strange to say the least. But as you dig a bit deeper into the details you can see how the questions were structured and get a feel for the general awareness level of the respondents.
First of all, the questions where they rang up the majority support numbers were the ones where they asked about support for and the funding of health exams, screenings and contraception. (Heck, when you take out the name Planned Parenthood – which they did in the earliest questions – I support those things too.) There was no mention of abortion. The reason they give later in the article is the oft repeated but highly misleading claim that no federal funds go to abortions. But as we’ve discussed here before, that’s disingenuous at best because money is fungible. Donating to Planned Parenthood and saying don’t use this money for abortions is like giving money to the NRSC and saying you only want it used for your candidate. When you dump water into that bucket it fills the whole bucket.
But the questions and the corresponding results change as you dig further into the survey results. They tout the percentage of Democrats who support funding the organization up front, but well down into the article the number of supporters across party lines was rather different.
Overall, 54 percent of those in the poll supported federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and 26 percent opposed it.
But you have to dig even deeper before you discover that large numbers of the respondents either didn’t even know about the CMP videos or, if they did, hadn’t seen them. After finding out more, the pollsters admit that “Forty-four percent of respondents who saw the Center for Medical Progress videos said they now have a more negative view of Planned Parenthood, compared with 34 percent who said their views were unchanged.”
But the real kicker is the one you only find if you read down to the very last paragraph in the article. (Emphasis added)
After the videos were described to poll respondents, 39 percent said Planned Parenthood should not receive government funding and 34 percent said federal dollars should continue.
If anything, this is little more than an indictment of the media for essentially burying or simply ignoring the story. Most Americans either don’t know or don’t want to know about the videos. (I’ll confess I wasn’t able to sit through the full versions.) But when they get the gist of it, Reuters’ own numbers show that opinions shift dramatically. In fact, rather than a majority supporting continued federal funding, barely one third do after finding out about the videos. The slightly larger plurality actually oppose continued funding and the rest are up for grabs.
Now go back and compare that to the title of the article and initial summary of the poll’s findings. Notice anything changing?