- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 12, 2015

A little-noticed poll is challenging the widely touted narrative that most Americans oppose GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

The nationwide poll conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute found that 53.3 percent of those surveyed support moving federal funding from Planned Parenthood to community clinics that do not offer abortions, while 31.5 percent are opposed.

One of Planned Parenthood’s top talking points is that polls have shown that most Americans disagree with recent Republican defunding efforts. So what accounts for the difference?

The key lies in the wording of the question, the pollster said. While previous surveys have asked for a straight yes-or-no response on defunding, the RMU poll used a more detailed question that reflects the recent GOP proposals.

“Congressional Republicans favor shifting Planned Parenthood federal funds to community clinics that perform the same services, but do not perform abortions,” the RMU question says. “Would you say you support or oppose this plan?”

The results of the RMU poll, released Dec. 2, came as a near-mirror image of those released Monday by USA Today/Suffolk University, whose survey asked “Should federal funding for Planned Parenthood be eliminated?” The result was 58 percent disagreed and 33 percent agreed.

“Now 14 polls confirm that Americans oppose ‘defunding’ Planned Parenthood,” said Planned Parenthood Action Fund on Twitter after the USA Today/Suffolk survey was release. “But it’s politics as usual in Congress.”

The conservative Media Research Center accused media outlets of “censoring” the RMU poll because it deviates from the Planned Parenthood narrative. The RMU survey was conducted before the Nov. 27 shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

Pollster Philip Harold, a professor at the Pittsburgh university, told the MRC that in the past, “results from the RMU Polling Institute have gotten traction on political topics but not this time.”

“One of the cardinal rules in polling is to clearly indicate the alternative in the question and a poll question that doesn’t do this is flawed,” he said in a press release. “Because the wording of this poll reflects the actual proposal, it is more accurate.”

The RMU poll also showed a surprisingly high percentage of support for the GOP defunding plan among Democrats. While 47.3 percent of Democrats opposed the Republican proposal, 42.7 percent supported it.

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