06 December 2009

Polling and the Public Option

HL Mencken famously said that "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."  Which is a great reason to be leery of polls when looking at anything other than projecting likely election results.  Ezra notes an illuminating recent poll:

Ezra Klein - Two-thirds of Americans don't understand the public option
Vanity Fair finally had the bright idea to ask, "could you confidently explain what exactly the public option is to someone who didn’t know?" The answer:

Which is pretty much why we should not be paying much attention to polls when figuring out how to actually do health care reform.  Like anybody, I'm quick to trumpet a poll that favors my position, and to pooh-pooh a poll that is adverse.  But in the case of health care in particular, there's not just the problem of an inattentive and uneducated public, but also the simple fact that there are even now like five or six versions of the Public Option and ObamaCare floating around out there.  How can someone know what is actually the "Public Option" when the definition is yet to be determined by Congress? And what the hell is "ObamaCare" when the multiple irreconcilable versions are being drafted by a fractious and uncooperative Congress in the (frustrating) absence of strong leadership from the White House?

Anyway, Reuters says 60% of Americans want a public option so clearly I'm right and all of you who disagree with me should shut up and bugger off.

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