Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Zogby: Voters' "hearts" are with the Dems on health care reform

The results of extended campaigns to sway public opinion such as Obama's advocacy for comprehensive health care reform from the day after the Massachusetts election forward can take a long time to come into focus. But since mid-February -- a few days after Obama proposed the health care summit -- the polling gap between those who say they're opposed to the Democrats' health care reform effort and those in favor has narrowed steadily to a virtual dead heat at present.

And there are interesting undercurrents. Zogby polled just before the summit and then a week after and did not found no movement in the percentages of people who said they were for or against Obama's plan. But they did find two surprises. Zogby, sharing a byline in today's FT with Bush Administration assistant secretary of defense for health affairs S. Ward Cascells, reports:
First, we were surprised to find Americans exactly evenly split between Mr Obama’s plan and that of the Republicans. Well aware that the way the question is asked can determine the result, in our surveys just before and after the summit, we used Mr Obama’s name and listed the main provisions of both plans. In previous surveys we had asked respondents to choose between the House or Senate Democrats’ plan and no bill, or starting over, and they always preferred no bill, or starting over. [snip]

When we asked who was putting the nation’s interest ahead of political gain, we got a surprise: most independents – and almost half of Republicans – chose the Democrats.

So, while independents and Republicans prefer the Republican plan to Obamacare, they think the Democrats’ hearts are in the right place. This should worry Republicans on two counts: on this issue, Americans suspect their motives, and people vote with their hearts more than their heads. As the saying goes: “They don’t care that you know ’til they know that you care.”
Suggesting that these numbers spell trouble for Republicans (albeit with plenty of danger for Democrats too), Zogby and Cascells come up with a bizarre proposal: Republican moderates propose again to "start over" but pledge to pass "a bipartisan bill by a certain date -- say May 15."  That's a pipe dream on several fronts: that Republicans would dream of dealing, that they could find significant common ground (Zogby polled before and after the summit, but did he watch it?), and that even good-faith negotiators, of which there are none in today's Republican party, can ever agree in advance to strike a deal by a certain date.

But no matter. Zogby, in apparent contrast to Rasmussen, is apparently polling and analyzing polling data in good faith.  And his mixed data is on balance good news for Democrats.

As a highly speculative footnote, it's curious that Zogby published an op-ed analyzing results in today's FT on the same day that Rasmussen published in the WSJ.  Both are Republican-leaning pollsters -- Rasmussen so much so that polling analysts generally consider its results an outlier.  What's Zogby's analysis doing in the Brit FT? The FT has may have the best op-ed page in the English language, but it's a bit off the beaten track for a U.S. pollster -- Zogby last published a byline there in 2005.  The Wall Street Journal's op-ed page is the most rabidly slanted of any national newspaper's.  Might the Journal have passed on Zogby's submission to highlight Rasmussen's more congenial conclusions?

No comments:

Post a Comment