THE PLANK DECEMBER 7, 2009
In my last TRB, I made a point I'm surprised hasn't gotten more attention: health care reform isn't actually unpopular. Or, to the extent that it lacks majority support, it's due to significant dissent from the left. Supporters of the Democratic plans plus their liberal critics add up to a majority:
For instance, one recent poll asks whether the Democratic plans create too much government involvement, the right amount, or not enough. Too much gets 42 percent, the right amount 34 percent, and not enough 21 percent. Another question shows that only 28 percent of Americans think the bill goes too far in expanding coverage to the uninsured, 33 percent say it expands coverage the right amount, and 35 percent say it does not go far enough. In both cases, majorities of the public either support Obama’s approach or wish it went further.
Moreover, a clear majority of Americans say that they want the Democrats to pass a health care bill with a public option, even if this means it would get no GOP votes--a striking result, given the misty-eyed sentiment Americans generally display toward bipartisanship in all its forms.
Nate Silver today catches another poll with a similar result:
Ipsos, however, did something that no other pollster has done. They asked the people who opposed the bill why they opposed it: because they are opposed to health care reform and thought the bill went too far? Or because they support health care reform but thought the bill didn't go far enough?
It turns out that a significant minority of about 25 percent of the people who opposed the plan -- or about 12 of the overall sample -- did so from the left; they thought the plan didn't go far enough.
Ipsos also asked a parallel question of people who supported the plan: did any of them support the plan because they oppose health care reform and thought that the plan was sufficiently watered-down so as to "keep health care reform from happening"? A small number of people picked this response: about 10 percent of those in favor of the plan, or 3 percent of the entire sample.
Combining these numbers together, we get the following:
One way to look at this: 43 percent of people favor health care reform, whereas 38 percent oppose it (20 percent are undecided). But the actual plan under consideration gets numbers that are more or less the reverse of that -- 34 percent in favor, 46 percent opposed -- because a significant number of people think the plan doesn't go far enough.