Obama Polling Machine Kicks Into Gear

White House relies on public opinion data to push agenda
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Apr 3, 2009 11:37 AM CDT
Former President Bill Clinton was interested in polls with a "hypnotic intensity," the Washington Post once noted; President Bush toned down the White House's reliance on polling.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – President Obama is increasingly reliant on polling data as he fine-tunes his budget pitch, relying on Washington outsiders in an operation more involved than his predecessor’s but less comprehensive than President Clinton’s. The process, sources tell Politico, is almost completely focused on pushing policy and not on measuring Obama’s popularity. Right-hand man David Axelrod is in charge of digesting the data.

Many recent White House occupants downplayed polling data importance for governing but continued to rely on them. Joel Benenson, a holdover from Obama’s campaign, has the highest profile, and like Axelrod is a former journalist; sources say he’s neurotic to the point that he paid for his own polling after Obama’s campaign manager pulled the plug down the stretch.