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Obama Uses Polls, Focus Groups to Sell Stimulus — Smart?

While Karl Rove and the Bush Administration came under fire for governing in constant-campaign mode, it looks like the shrewd Obama campaign will use some of its tactics to help rule. In hopes of selling a $775 billion stimulus plan to Congress, the Obama team has turned to polling and focus group data. Expect to hear poll-tested language, including "recovery" (not "recession") and "investment" (not "infrastructure"), during Obama's term.

Bloomberg reports that public polling by presidents is nothing new. Bill Clinton polled policy details, while George W. Bush tended to poll the presentation only.

Of course, messaging is an important way to pass legislation (for example it's much easier to push a "rescue" plan than a "bailout"); but, focus group feedback probably shouldn't replace in-depth policy research or be used to manipulate the public. Then again, polls and focus groups might be the best way to listen to what the people want!


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