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Katrina response Obama's fault?

Poll's off-the-wall question paints some GOP voters as out of touch


  Talking Points Memo on Aug. 21 provided a sneak peek at a new Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey of 274 Louisiana Republican primary voters, taken Aug. 16-19. The poll's top line regarded preferences for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, and it pitted Gov. Bobby Jindal against a wide field of Republican leaders. (Jindal scored 10 percent support among Louisiana Republicans, putting him in the middle of the pack of possible presidential hopefuls, but behind "Someone else/not sure.")

  But it was the answer to this question that caught our eye: "Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?" "Not sure" was the leading response at 44 percent; 28 percent of the all-GOP survey sample said Bush was more responsible — and 29 percent thought it was all Obama's fault.

  A statistically insignificant difference, to be sure. Of course, Bush was president at the time and Obama was a freshman Illinois U.S. senator. (In the crosstabs, older people were more likely to blame Obama, while younger voters were likely to be not sure.)

  That raises a further question: Why was it asked in the first place? PPP, which largely conducts polling for Democratic and liberal groups, is fond of throwing curveballs. In 2011, PPP asked GOP voters whether they thought either Obama or former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would be raptured into heaven (19 percent thought Obama would; 51 percent thought Palin would). Three months ago, PPP conducted a poll about Americans' attitude toward "hipsters," which included a question about whether hipsters just "soullessly appropriate cultural tropes from the past for their own ironic amusement." It also asked respondents to rate the palatability of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

  Whatever the motivation behind the Katrina question, it's sure to be used as ammo against Louisiana Republicans' brainpower (and ammo against Louisianans' brainpower in general). It also will give conservatives a chance to squawk they were set up by a liberal polling organization. — KEVIN ALLMAN

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