Frum downplayed public's dissatisfaction with Republican-controlled Congress


National Review contributing editor and former Bush speechwriter David Frum dismissed a recent poll showing dissatisfaction with the Republican-controlled Congress by claiming that one question asking respondents if they "approve or disapprove of the job that Congress is doing," which shows that only 33 percent of respondents "approve," was "too general" to be meaningful. Frum went on to dismiss the idea that the public is looking to elect a Democratic Congress in 2006 as "very, very unlikely" and stated that "2006 looks like a reasonably good year for the Republicans."

Though Frum appeared to be sufficiently familiar with the poll to criticize the wording of one particular question, he did not acknowledge another question from the same NBC News/Wall Street Journal pollPDF file, conducted May 12-16, that specifically asked respondents whether they would prefer the 2006 election to result in a Democrat-controlled or a Republican-controlled Congress; 47 percent of respondents chose a Democrat-controlled Congress, while 40 percent chose a Republican-controlled Congress.

From the May 19 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: David, I'm looking at the latest NBC polls. Without going into all the aspects of them, the numbers show people don't like what Congress is up to and they're looking forward to reelect -- electing, rather, a Democratic Congress next year. What do you think of that? Is this about the filibuster?

FRUM: No. I think it's about the way the question is asked, and polling --

MATTHEWS: Well, "Do you approve of Congress' behavior or not?"

FRUM: People will -- when you ask them a question, they give you a very exact answer to the question they've just heard. If you make it too general, they look at everything they see on television, they never like what they see on television. Is -- are the American people going to elect a Democratic Congress in order to put liberal judges on the bench?

MATTHEWS: No, it's just that they're mad at the way things are going generally.

FRUM: That strikes me as very, very unlikely, and when you look at the way the states go, I have to think 2006 looks like a reasonably good year for the Republicans. There are a lot more states where they -- people voted Republican -- for a Republican president and a Democratic congressman than the other way around.

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