MSNBC's Rachel Maddow wondered on Tuesday why Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insist that health reform is not "what the America people actually want," when "the polls, broadly speaking, are not really obviously on the Republican side."
Maddow suggested that "the Republican leadership may have been watching a lot of Fox News lately" and pointed to a recent Fox poll which shows only 33% of Americans supporting the "current health reform plan" and 53% opposed.
Nate Silver of 538.com has noted that Fox polls on health care reform consistently show more negative sentiment than other polls do. He points out that in the latest poll, the health care question was preceded by a number of other questions that could have influenced the response, such as "Do you think President Obama apologizes too much to the rest of the world?" and "Do you think the size of the national debt is so large it is hurting the future of the country?"
"That flawed figure was treated as news by Fox all day," Maddow said of the poll. "Doing this sort of polling makes good business sense for Fox, I imagine. ... But ... it's possible that it is messing Republicans up. It's giving them bad information with which to make strategic policy decisions."
Maddow turned for comment to veteran Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, who appeared to think both she and Silver were making a lot of fuss about nothing. He emphasized that the company which produced the Fox poll, Opinion Dynamics, has a good track record and is not "known for cooking the books."
"Take Opinion Dynamics as real," Trippi suggested. "If they're right, we've got a lot of work to do. ... Let's work even harder. And if they're wrong, we're going to win anyway."
Maddow argued in response that the potential problem she sees is not with the poll but that "the Republican Party takes their information disproportionately from Fox ... if what Fox is doing is telling a conservative audience what they want to hear."
Trippi insisted, however, dismissed that as nothing unusual, because both parties always "grab onto whichever poll makes our argument to the American people."
"When you hear an argument that works against you -- that's an argument that's real," Trippi concluded. "You've got to go work harder to knock that argument down."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Oct. 8, 2009.