Pollster.com's Mark Blumenthal provides the answers in a blog post that is a model of poll analysis. Blumenthal points out that for many respondents, faced with a choice of positions on an issue that they're not familiar with and haven't thought much about, question wording can make a great deal of difference. Bottom line: "The fact that six of the nine pollsters show net opposition to the bailout--especially among those with more concise questions--suggests that the onus is on bailout proponents to make the case to the American public for passage." Another way to look at it: There seem to be more firmly committed opponents than firmly committed proponents of the bailout.
This is something George W. Bush and Henry Paulson might want to keep in mind as they come up with terms and conditions for the TARP funds they are preparing to disburse to General Motors and Chrysler (Ford just wants a line of credit).
By Michael Barone