Spinning the Polls

Perhaps humbled by its shellacking for hosting and broadcasting the Obama-infomercial on Wednesday, ABC and its collaborators at the Washington Post put a very different spin on a health-reform poll that has essentially the same results as the New York Times‘ one a few days ago. While the Gray Lady promoted the notion that the American people are ga-ga for a so-called “public option” for health insurance (actually a swamp of new federal bureaucracies, if Sen. Kennedy’s bill is any indication), the WaPo/ABC folks are close to pushing the panic button on the plan for a government take-over:

Most respondents are “very concerned” that health-care reform would lead to higher costs, lower quality, fewer choices, a bigger deficit, diminished insurance coverage and more government bureaucracy. About six in 10 are at least somewhat worried about all of these factors, underscoring the challenges for lawmakers as they attempt to restructure the nation’s $2.3 trillion health-care system.

Obama gets just over the bar on health care, with 53% approval (question #2). However, he gets a failing grade on the deficit (48%) and the auto bail-out (45%), which suggests that the disingenuous claims about a so-called “public option” competing “fairly” with the private carriers are necessary. As soon as people figure out its true costs and scope of government interference, they lose enthusiasm quickly. On the hopelessly poorly defined question of supporting a “public option” from a “government agency” or “independent organization with government funding”, 21% favored the former and 42% the latter (#20). Of these 62%, 56% would be cool with the public option driving private insurers out of business through “competition” (#21). That’s only one third of the total sample. Furthermore, the Democratic party’s favorable/unfavorable ratings were 53%/40% versus 54%/38% in 1992, pre-HillaryCare, suggesting that the 2009 version of a health-care take-over faces at least as much trouble as its predecessor (#4).

Not that the Republicans are going to win this fight for us (with all due respect to Rep. Ryan, Senator DeMint, and the others who are struggling for oxygen in the health-care debate): their favorable/unfavorable ratings are 36%/56% today versus 53%/39% in 1992.

This blog post originally appeared in John Goodman’s Health Policy Blog.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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