Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Opposition to Health Care Reform from the Left (11/17)

As shown in this Pollster.com graphic, public support for President Obama and the Democrats' health care reform plans has consistently been around 45% (plus or minus a few percent) for several months, whereas opposition has consistently approached 50% for the past few months.

That nearly all recent polls show opposition exceeding support -- albeit often by small margins -- may lend some credence to Republican Senate floor leader Mitch McConnell's claim over the weekend that the country does not want the pending legislation and that Democratic efforts to pass it are at their own peril.

In a technical sense, McConnell may be right. However, the implication that conservative opposition to the Democrats' bills is carrying the day does not appear to be correct.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll (in the field November 13-15) obtained a typical finding, namely that 46% favored the U.S. House's recently passed "bill that would make major changes in the country’s health care system," whereas 49% expressed opposition. However, CNN asked this follow-up question to respondents in the opposition camp: "Do you oppose that bill because you think its approach toward health care is too liberal, or because you think its approach toward health care is not liberal enough?"

Responses broke down as follows: 34% opposed the bill because they considered it too liberal; 10% opposed it because they felt it was not liberal enough; 3% opposed it for other reasons; and the remaining couple of percent apparently did not endorse a reason. One can thus conclude (within the usual confines of the margin of error) that 56% of Americans favor either the House-passed version of health care reform or something further to the left. (Thanks to Pollster.com discussant "Wong" for pointing out this finding.)

I just did some Google searching on the CNN/ORC question wording for the item that asked opponents why they didn't favor the bill, and I could not find any previous instances of this question being asked. Without such a question, we would not know whether opposition to the Democrats' health call bills was monolithic or diversified. Now, we have a pretty good idea.


Anonymous said...

I believe there is an error in logic with Wong's observation regarding those opposing the health care legislation due to it being too liberal.

As it may appear, adding the 10% opposing to the current approval rating would give it a significant boost. While the results need to be addressed we should not overlook the fallacy in this arguement. You must understand that we cannot make this arguement without assuming that those who approve the bill will continue to approve the bill if it becomes more liberal.

I would hypothesize, if the bill becomes more liberal, then the increase in approval will be equal or less than the loss from moderates changing from approve to oppose. Thus, the arguement made by Wong is not valid.

Thanks for letting me interject.

alan said...

Thanks for your comment. I agree that making the bill more liberal would likely lose some current supporters, thus making dubious the simple adding of current supporters and critics from the left. Another way to look at the situation, however, would be to ask what left-wing critics would do if the bills currently under consideration in Congress (with some things that liberals like, but other things they consider too watered-down) remained the only choices, as opposed to doing nothing. On the U.S. House floor a couple Saturdays ago, nearly all of the most liberal members conceded to reality and voted for what they considered an imperfect bill (Dennis Kucinich being an exception). If an analogous process were to occur within the public at large, then the left-wing critics would be moving to the center, in which case the adding of the two percentages would be valid.