The Public: Backing the Bailout Bill After All?

There’s interesting new polling data out today from the Pew Research Center, which does some of the most varied and comprehensive polling around. They say that the public opposition to the bill aimed at stabilizing the financial sector, is nowhere near as strong as it has been made out to be. The bill, which failed in a House vote Monday in part because of the perception that the public was adamantly opposed to it, passed the Senate last night and is now scheduled for a new vote in the house tomorrow. Both John McCain and Barack Obama came back from the campaign trail to vote for the bill, while Joe Biden interrupted preparation for his debate tonight with Sarah Palin to cast his vote as well.

In a survey conducted Sept. 27-29, Pew found that a narrow 45%-38% plurality of the public said that a government plan to invest or commit billions of dollars to secure financial institutions is the right thing to do.

So why the sense that the public is so against the deal? Chalk it up to the squeaky wheel, Pew says. Here’s an excerpt of their report; click here for more details.

While there is little doubt that Congressional representatives are hearing a lot of harsh words from voters back home, that clamor does not reflect broad American public opinion. It is a classic case of the squeaky wheels getting first attention at a time when Washington is in a quandary about what to do.

The most recent polls — those conducted through Monday night — show the public is at best divided over the plan. There is little indication of overwhelming public rejection of the bailout proposal.