Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up (8/14)

My thanks to all who have visited this blog during its inaugural week! Thus far, I have been summarizing Americans' views on specific issues, based almost exclusively on polling done during July. I expect many, if not most, of the same media and polling outfits to come out with new results in the coming weeks. At least I'm hoping that's the case, as the best way to examine trends is by looking at the same pollster, using the same questions, over time.

One outlet that had a July poll (July 21-22) and now has an August poll (August 11-12) is FOX News/Opinion Dynamics. Self-identified Republicans are a little over-represented in this poll (D 39, R 35) compared to's national average (D 38.3, R 32.5), which should be taken into account in looking at FOX's overall national results. Also, many of the health-related items in the FOX poll are, one might say, a bit more "quirky" than those asked by other outfits. For example, one of the FOX items asks:

"Which one of the following [emotions] best describes how you feel about the government being more involved in your health care?"

Self-identified Democrats fall primarily into two categories: reassured (37% of Democrats) and indifferent (35%). Republicans, on the other hand, fall predominantly into frightened (51%) and angry (27%).

The question-wording iself is questionable, in my view, as most Americans' current health plans will likely remain unchanged and, for these people, the government presumably would not be "more involved in your health care." Critics have argued that Obama's claim of, "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period..." might be somewhat misleading. The reason is that, even though nothing in the legislation would explicitly throw people out of their existing plans, the government plan might induce businesses to change or drop their employees' current plans, which could be considered a by-product of government involvement. However, approximately 90% of Americans in employer-based plans would apparently stay in them, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of one of the plans under consideration by the U.S. Senate:

"[By 2017] about 147 million people would be covered by an employment-based health plan, 15 million fewer than under current law."

This Yahoo News/AP "Fact Check" article also does a nice job of examining this area of contention, as well as others.

Just a couple more brief notes:

*The August 11 installment of's "Outliers" feature (links to various polling developments) has a number of health-care relevant links.

*The Marist Poll (which was in the field August 3-6) has now entered the fray on health care reform.

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