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A Turnaround Perceptions of Health Reform?

Topics: Brenden Nyhan , Health Care Reform , Jason Reifler , NBC/Wall Street Journal

As promised, my column for this week considers where general perceptions of health care reform currently stand, and whether they might improve should congress finally enact the legislation into law in the coming weeks.

Read it all for details, but the short version: While it is a long shot that passage will dispel many of the common misperceptions, it might not take much of a shift in the polling numbers to change the way political insiders perceive the legislation's popularity. Think of it this way: Many opponents of health reform point to our chart of general favor-or-oppose questions to argue that the legislation is "deeply unpopular," wisdom now so conventional it was the premise of a Saturday Night Live spoof over the weekend.

Yet our current trend estimate, based on all the available surveys, shows opposition leading support by eight percentage point (51% to 43%). If just 1 voter in 25 shifts from opposition to support, our estimate would show Americans evenly divided on the issue. I'm not predicting that will happen, just pointing out that it will not take a huge shift to bring these measurements to something fairly characterized as division rather than "deep" unpopularity.

 

Comments
PeterPrinciple:

I think we can trust the corporate media to continue to report that HCR is "deeply unpopular" as long as the polls show that at least 10% of all Republicans oppose it.

That is their job, after all.

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GARY WAGNER:

I guess the definition of deep comes down to a matter of semantics. This only has a 43% popularity so is a composite of 51% active unpopularity deep? It is more than just deep when 83% of Republicans oppose it. It is very deep when 67% of independents oppose it.

By the same token, you could call this plan wildly popular if you ignore two-thirds of the population.

But if you consider the strength of the support/opposition, only 20% strongly favor the plan compared to 41% who strongly disapprove of it. That is a two to one margin against this plan. That certainly falls into the deeply unpopular label.

Didn't the MSM still call Obama an "extremely popular" president when his approval had dipped to 51%? If so, then why not call this bill deeply unpopular when it has 51% disapproval? What's good for the goose is good for the gander, isn't it?

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