Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What change looks like - More mysteries of public opinion polling

According to House Republican Leader John Boehner (or almost any other Congressional Republican picked at random, since they all repeat the same talking-points):
Instead of continuing to push a government takeover of health care that the American people have soundly rejected, the President and Democratic Leaders on Capitol Hill should scrap their plan and start over [etc.]
A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted on Monday, the day after the House voted for health care reform, got the following response to this question:
As you may know, yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that restructures the nation’s healthcare system. All in all, do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing that Congress passed this bill?

Good thing 49%
Bad thing 40%
Don’t know 11%
The largest single group, 48%, calls the bill "a good first step" that should be followed by more action on health care. An additional 4% also have a favorable view, saying the bill makes the most important changes needed in the nation's health care system.
Of course, this is just one poll, and that upward bump in support for the bill may turn out to be a passing blip. Maybe Americans just like a winner? Maybe they don't want to hear another word about health care reform? I suspect this means more than that, but who knows for sure?

But that's really the key point. Public opinion polls are often fickle, and the public response to this health care reform effort, as measured by polls, has been extremely fluid, complicated, and ambivalent. If the Republicans do run their 2010 election campaign on a promise to repeal this bill, they may be in for a surprise.

--Jeff Weintraub

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