An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Asking the right questions, reporting the wrong answers

This sort of commercial self-censorship is a "textbook" example of why I started this blog (actually its pre-cursor web site) in the first place. CNN asks some good questions in its recent poll to measure the approval or disapproval of the Affordable Care Act (i.e.: Obamacare). But the headlines of the various reports about this poll grossly mis-states the results, for example: Most Americans still oppose Health Care Law. Really? But keep reading the CNN's own report on this poll to find out why.

The survey indicates that 35% oppose the health care law because it's too liberal, with 16% saying they oppose the measure because it isn't liberal enough. [emphasis added].

I can even remember the polling data as the administration floated various proposals. At the beginning of 2009 polls ran around 65% in favor of reform, but that number dropped after Obama removed the "public option" (i.e.: the way it works in other countries that have national health care systems). The polling data above remains consistent with that of the recent past. The Rachel Maddow show has this helpful chart to illustrate why this 16% matters so much:

click to enlarge

To be fair, the one question the CNN poll did not ask was of the respondents who support the Health Care Law how many would oppose it if it were more liberal. That said, the polling data from 4 years ago showed the public option with greater than 50% approval. Also, if you put the green bar representing the 16% who want a more "liberal" health care reform on top of the blue bar of the 44% who approve of Obamacare as is, you see the same 65% that polls showed 4 years ago as approving reform before President Obama withdrew the public option from the proposed bill. The chart above comes from a screen capture of the Rachel Maddow Show segment below.

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To paraphrase Strother Martin's character from Cool Hand Luke, what we have here is a failure to communicate listen to the voters. Had the Democrats grown a spine and/or had President Obama had any dedication to reform as it actually has proven to work effectively in other countries that tried it, we would not be in this mess now. The Democrats do not find themselves in a very defensible position. What are they going to say? Look! Add the 16% of the people who want more extensive reform and you can see what spineless cowards we were 4 years ago (and now too, by the way).

To make matters worse, the Affordable Care Act only "works" in blue states. In red states the Republicans can obstruct it to death, thereby insulating their constituency from any good effects. This makes criticizing it so much more effective because the Republican voters will have no first hand knowledge of its benefits. State government officials know how popular reform will be if they let it happen.

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