An Evening with pollster Scott Rasmussen sponsored by the Illinois Policy Institute

May 28, 2011

The Illinois Policy Institute, CEO John Tillman, presented a cocktail hour discussion with pollster Scott Rasmussen on Tuesday, evening, May 24, before a full house at its Chicago headquarters, 190 S. LaSalle Street. 

Earlier in the day Scott Rasmussen had addressed a similar gathering in Springfield, sponsored by the Springfield Office of the Illinois Policy Institute, 802 South 2nd Street, 2nd Floor.  Kristina Rasmussen is Executive Vice President of the Illinois Policy Institute.

Prior to introducing pollster and friend Scott Rasmussen, CEO John Tillman expressed optimism about the future of Illinois despite the pessimism of many.  Tillman believes that the body politics of Illinois are changing, and, despite the Democratic redistricting remap, veins of voters can be found to win elections for Republicans. 

Tillman also reminded those assembled that China, now #2, has climbed to this status because it has released free market principles that this nation and the American people have always been the beneficiary of.  To depress free market principles in this nation would only hinder its future growth along with its status as a respected world power and leader.

In introducing Scott Rasmussen, John Tillman quoted a comment Michael Barone made about Mr. Rasmussen as “one of America’s most innovative pollsters.”

Tillman went on to tell how Scott Rasmussen is the founder and President of Rasmusssen Reports, one of the nation’s premier sources for public opinion information.   Check out the following link to learn more about the interesting life of Scott Ramussen and of his many accomplishments.

Not included in the above link is one of Scott Rasmussen’s volunteer activities.  He serves as president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a not-for-profit religious corporation with historic ties to the United Methodist Church and the Wesleyan tradition. The 140 year-old organization provides opportunities for growth and renewal in a seaside setting. 

In publicity announcing the May 24th “An Evening with Scott Rasmussen” event, it was noted that “the renowned founder of Rasmussen Reports will share what big ideas are trending nationally and provide takeaways for Illinois residents, officials, and business leaders.”

Scott Rasmussen lived up to what attendees were promised.

Emphasized by Mr. Rasmussen was the need to put polling data in its proper context.  Rasmussen then when on to explain how when gas prices go up consumer confidence goes down immediately, but when gas prices fall it takes months for consumer confidence to go back up.  This is so because the American people have become cynical.  Even when prices fall a bit they still question whether the decrease is really going to last.

In explaining how political leadership often lags behind, Rasmussen attributed it to the unwillingness of leaders to face bigger issues until they can no longer be avoided, i.e.  In the ongoing debate over raising the debt ceiling from $14.3 to $15.1 trillion, the debate should zero in on how to deal with the nation’s $123 trillion debt, a figure eight times larger than arguing over whether to raise the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.  

Regarding how political change sometimes happens because attitudes of people change over time which then prompts legislators to articulate later on, Scott Rasmussen gave two examples: 

1.  The American Revolution didn’t start in 1775 at Lexington and Concord with “the shot heard around the world,” but decades earlier with the planting of seeds of dissatisfaction in response to perceived unfair happenings imposed upon the common man by those in power.

2.  Wyoming was far ahead of other states in enacting woman suffrage in 1869, not for political reasons, but because men desired to attract more women to Wyoming through giving them the right to vote.

In explaining why voters distrust both major parties, Scott Rasmussen had this to say.  Over many years voters have selected candidates who promise to cut spending and taxes, even though 1954 was the only year when taxes did decrease.  What happened instead was that taxes and spending increased regardless of whether a Republican or a Democratic administration was in the majority or held the White House. 

Rasmussen noted how voters dealt with the party in power when they voted out the controlling party in three back-to-back elections.  Bill Clinton entered office with a Democratic majority which he then lost; George W. Bush lost his Republican majority to Democrats; and Barack Obama lost control of Congress in the 2010 mid-term elections with the return of the House to Republicans. 

With the fundamental rejection of both parties and the prevailing cynicism, voters further perceive that rules are changed for the politically connected; 50% believe their own legislators exchange votes for cash; only 53% believe that capitalism is better than socialism; and only 15% believe the value of their home will go up in the coming year.

A positive sign noted by Rasmussen was that given a choice the American people will choose competition over regulation, as was reflected in polls about health care.  Most Americans believe that free market forces will do more to reduce the cost of health care, but that health care must address end of life issues, not ignore poor people, deal with chronic care conditions, and provide emergency care. 

On the issue of public pensions, which remains a hot issue here in Illinois and across this nation, people don’t want to pay higher taxes to support pension benefits for those in the pubic sector, many of whom fare better in retirement than do the taxpayers.  At the same time taxpayers want school teachers fairly treated, but do desire a sense of fairness all around. 

In conclusion Scott Rasmussen assured all that 81% of the American people still believe, as set forth by our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed by our Creator with unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 

As an aside from Nancy Thorner, and one which Scott Rasmussen would surely echo: Thomas Jefferson was later quoted as asking, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?”  The founders of our nation knew that without the fear of God, arrogant and powerful men would turn to tyranny.  

In keeping with what the American people desire today, Raumussen compared the age in which Abraham Lincoln lived not unlike the mood of today where many Americans are similarly yearning for a new birth of freedom. 

Scott Raumussen then went on quote the closing line of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address delivered on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, as principles set forth 150 years ago but still in need of reflection by the people of today:  “. . . and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

A question and answer period followed Scott Raumussen’s presentation. 

A handout was given to all attendees entitled:  May 2001:  The Pulse of Illinois. The handout contains the results of a poll commissioned by the Illinois Policy Institute.  Five hundred likely Illinois voters were surveyed on May 17, 2011 by Pulse Opinion Research. The Margin of Sampling Error: +/.4.5 percentage pints with a 95% level of confidence.  The full cross tabs of this poll are available at   

When checking the above link, the first polling question reveals that 76% of Illinoisans believe their state is on the wrong track, 11% are not sure, and only 13% believe Illinois is on the right track.

All total, there are fourteen poll questions asked and reported on by Pulse Opinion Research.








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