Another Trouble With Polls

The #1 trouble with polls is that the questions can be easily manipulated to shift the results quite a bit by small changes in wording.

But another problem in interpretation is that "opposition" to certain public policy goals is not well parsed.  Kevin Drum gives an example where "opposition" to Obamacare includes a lot of people who don't like it because they wanted it to be even more radical, believing the government should have gone even further or stopped short of the full policy prescription required.  But these numbers are typically just lumped in as "opposed" and the conclusion is frequently that all opposed thought the law went too far or should not have been passed.

My gut feel is that this is a non-partisan issue.  Just as easily folks could be opposed to, say, tax cuts or the government shutdown because they did not think it went far enough.

As far as Obamacare goes, it will be interesting to see what those numbers look like in 2 months.


  1. Nehemiah:

    A great point. The negative polling for Republicans supposedly because of the stance they took on the shutdown is also skewed. My opinion of the Republicans went down every time I saw McCain pontificating about the shutdown or when I thought about how weak kneed they are when facing main stream media criticism.

    If I were the Speaker of the House I would have told the President that if he needed to pay for something he could send over a staffer with a check request for my consideration.

    James Madison was pretty clear on the role of the House in this regard, Federalist No. 58 "The House of Representatives can not only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of Government. They, in a word, hold the purse; that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the People gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the Government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon, with which any Constitution can arm the immediate Representatives of the People, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure."

  2. marque2:

    What about those who are for Obamacare because they want to see it fail grandly?

  3. Nehemiah:

    You may be on to something. Obamacare may be that government program that demonstrates the danger putting government in control especially over such a critical service delivery system as healthcare. Government incompetence will be broadly and deeply felt and could be the tonic that causes us to look to market based solutions.