Goofy poll question requires people to puzzle over whether to take jokey hyperbole literally. But 32% of likely U.S. voters did agree with the famous Reagan remark. Rasmussen, the rascally pollster, says "Ronald Reagan would be disappointed."
When you're polled, you don't get to explain. Among those who disagree with the statement, what is the percentage of people who thought things like "Actually, I think the government is often quite helpful," and what is the percentage of people who thought things like "It would be much more frightening to hear 'I'm afraid you have 3 weeks to live' or 'Your child has been in a terrible accident'"?
This is the same point I was making the other day about that poll where 31% of Republicans said they thought Obama is Muslim: "They might simply have thought that he was Muslim by inheritance through his father, a cultural matter, which would be quite true. Why make fun of the people who are stuck within the constraints of a poll question?"
This is how pollsters can crank out raw material for propagandists. I'm calling bullshit. I mean, it's a cowpie of distortion.