- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2017

Fake news, and now fake polls? America is awash in surveys gauging every nuance of the political landscape. Americans, however, appear to be leery of this tidal wave of information, at least according to — of course — a new poll. Most voters don’t trust political polls and tend to think pollsters are out to stop President Trump’s agenda, says a Rasmussen Reports survey that finds only one-quarter of likely voters say they actually trust most political polls. Though many pollsters adhere to often-rigid standards of methodology when they gather their data, plenty of them appear to have a distinct agenda.

“Just one-out-of-three voters (35 percent) believe most pollsters are interested in reporting the attitudes of Americans in an unbiased manner when they poll on President Trump,” the survey analysis notes. “Forty-three percent think most pollsters are trying to block the president from passing his agenda. Just 12 percent say most are trying to help the president pass that agenda instead.”

This is not lost on the Grand Old Party.

“Not surprisingly, given how wrong most pollsters were about the outcome of the presidential election, 64 percent of Republicans think most pollsters are trying to block Trump’s agenda, a view shared by 42 percent of unaffiliated voters but only 24 percent of Democrats,” the analysis noted.

Mr. Trump — subjected to relentlessly negative coverage of his presidency — has accused journalists of creating “fake news.” The president may have to add “fake polls” to his lexicon as well.

Indeed, 37 percent of the respondents rate current polling on political issues worse than it has been in the past. Only a quarter feel the average pollster is in “about the same place” as they are ideologically. And about that trust factor: 55 percent of all voters don’t trust those political polls, along with 66 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of unaffiliated voters and a surprising 44 percent of Democrats.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

“It’s crucial for Americans to resist ‘hate,’ Obama says in rare address,” declares a big new NBC headline.

“His previous rare address was two weeks ago,” points out Stephen Green, a contributor to the ever-popular Instapundit news site.

Former President Barack Obama gave his speech on Sunday night in Boston upon accepting an award from the family of the late John F. Kennedy Jr. There are some out there who wonder if Mr. Obama has returned to the political marketplace a little too early.

A new Morning Consult poll reveals that 46 percent of voters said it was inappropriate for Mr. Obama to “be paid $400,000 by a Wall Street investment firm to give a speech on health care.” Almost seven out of 10 Republicans — 67 percent — agree with this, along with 48 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats.

The poll found that 36 percent overall approved of the idea; 22 percent of the GOPers, 30 percent of the indies and 55 percent of the Dems agree.

GOP-BY-THE-SEA

The Republican National Committee’s annual spring meeting begins in 48 hours, a forum for GOP sages, big-name Republicans and occasional upstarts alike.

There are rules to be made and committee meetings to ponder; a mostly unfriendly press will be along, there to conclude that the Republicans are either in a state of disunity, squabbling over little details or trying to get away with something. Journalists say that every year, so no matter.

Of interest: The meeting takes place at the grand and historic Hotel del Coronado just outside San Diego on a stretch of fine beach, a 130-year-old monument to Victorian splendor that has played host to everyone from Thomas Edison and Mae West to Ronald Reagan and 15 other U.S. presidents. A half-dozen major movies — including Marilyn Monroe’s “Some Like It Hot” — have been filmed there.

Last, but not least, the hotel also features two “legend” cocktails, perhaps ideal for soul-searching Republicans.

“The Twisted Nail,” concocted to honor the Prince of Wales, past and current, involves single malt scotch, Drambuie, orange peel and a “rinse” of Laphroaig — a super peaty, smoky scotch, according to one who is familiar with such things.

The other is “Kate Morgan,” named for a resident ghostly presence at the hotel. The drink combines gin, Cointreau, grapefruit liqueur, lemon juice and the aperitif Gancia Americano — plus dry ice.

CONDI HAS A SAY

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has quietly re-emerged onto the political landscape with a new book titled “Democracy: Stories From the Long Road to Freedom.” It is earning some praise for offering commonsense but heartfelt insight into the disconcerting possibility that democracy itself is “in retreat.”

Chapters are devoted to the specific challenges faced by Ukraine, Russia, Kenya and other nations; the title of the last chapter is very telling: “Epilogue: They Will Look to America.”

Ms. Rice also points out that sincere talk of democracy can prove an effective diplomatic tool, and might very well enhance President Trump’s ongoing dialogue with world leaders, now on a trajectory to go beyond just the art of the deal.

“Democracy promotion actually is very often not very expensive. It’s supporting elections, supporting the building of civil societies, supporting a free press abroad,” Ms. Rice tells CBS News, adding that she is not bothered by the idea that Mr. Trump has been chatting with Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, among others.

“I have no problem with the president meeting with those leaders. He has to. But we always need to speak for our values as well, and our values are the belief that we were endowed with certain rights by our creator. It can’t be true for just us and not for them,” Ms. Rice advises.

POLL DU JOUR

• 63 percent of Americans expect to work past retirement age but work part-time.

• 25 percent expect to stop working altogether at retirement age; 11 percent expect to continue working full-time.

• 39 percent expect to retire when they are over 65.

• 29 percent expect to retire when they are under 65.

• 24 percent expect to retire right at 65.

Source: A Gallup poll of 718 U.S. adults conducted April 5-9 and released Monday.

• Cranky admonitions, chitchat to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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