According to the latest New York Times poll, the public continues to be ill-informed and hypocritical:
Most Americans continue to want the federal government to focus on reducing the budget deficit rather than spending money to stimulate the national economy, a new New York Times/CBS News poll finds. Yet at the same time, most oppose some proposed solutions for decreasing it.
Fifty-six percent of respondents said that they were not willing to pay more in taxes in order to reduce the deficit, and nearly as many said they were not willing for the government to provide fewer services in areas such as health care, education and defense spending.
This is why I think shrewd politicians don’t spend too much time sweating the details of public opinion about issues. What really matters in recent polling is that as Barack Obama is subject to the usual partisan attacks, his polling honeymoon has vanished and if the economic situation continues to deteriorate he’ll get even less popular. When vulnerable members of congress push the health care vote back into the fall, they’re almost certainly pushing it into a time period during which opinion will be fairly anti-Obama.
A good point from Brendan Nyhan who points out that while the aggregate preferences here may be incoherent, the data is consistent with the actual number of people holding incoherent views being quite small. You can’t infer very much about individual preferences from this aggregate data.