Archive for October 20th, 2009|Daily archive page

Public Still Favors Public Option

Nothing new here but let’s mark today’s Washington Post headline about Americans supporting the public option by noting that popular support is clearly not what’s holding back the public option.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that support for a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and wins clear majority support from the public.

By contrast health care reform generally polls in the mid 40s. If public consent was driving the debate you’d be watching Senators scramble to add the public option instead of scrap it.

Another interesting aspect of the polls is that as currently constructed healthcare reform debate breaks down like a bit like European political outcomes. Here’s the numbers by political affiliation:

Overall, 45 percent of Americans favor the broad outlines of the proposals now moving in Congress, while 48 percent are opposed, about the same division that existed in August, at the height of angry town hall meetings over health-care reform. Seven in 10 Democrats back the plan, while almost nine in 10 Republicans oppose it. Independents divide 52 percent against, 42 percent in favor of the legislation.

More and more it seems like European elections end up with a winning coalition of around 48%-50% of the electorate. The losing party gets around 45% or sometimes much lower total as far left or right parties undercut their vote total dramatically. What’s weird about this tally is that often there is no majority for any policy direction. Maybe the left gets a majority, but for various reasons can’t form a coalition. Maybe neither the left or right get 50% as less clearly ideological parties grab up votes.

Here in the US such divisions are rare because of the dominance of the Democratic and Republican parties, but on this major issue you’re seeing a similar dynamic on the way forward. Like the adding of the public option you can only conclude the Senate isn’t especially responsive to public sentiment.



Don’t Bother Chasing the Media’s Ever Shifting Focus

So I have no idea what the White House is trying to accomplish by attacking Fox News, but nonetheless much of the criticism aimed at suggesting it’s a terrible decision is baseless.

Maybe it won’t accomplish anything to call Fox News biased, but there is no casual mechanism by which it will backfire. Despite the million references to losing focus or attention there is precious little reason to believe that any strategy would cause the media to focus on the substance of Obama’s reforms. Sure the balloon boy might fade into obscurity, but what if Sacha and Malia’s school changes their lunch menu again? What if Rev. Wright decides make jokes about some new ethnic group? More likely you’ll see more dishonest studies and push polls on health care by the enemies of reform, but the effect will be the same the public getting anything but the Obama message.

And it’s not like Obama is canceling security counsel meetings to think of a snarky comment to make about Fox News. The people thinking about how to respond to Fox News spend all day thinking about media, because they’re communications professionals.