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Wait, what? 39% of Americans think "the government should stay out of Medicare"

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 06:21 pm
A PPP poll conducted August 14-17, 2009 asked the following question and received the following answers:

Quote:
Q3 Do you think the government should stay out of
Medicare?
If yes, press 1. If no, press 2. If
you’re not sure, press 3.

Yes ................................................................. 39%
No .................................................................. 46%
Not Sure.......................................................... 15%


A leading question? Arguably so. A trick question even, since the proposition that the government should keep its hands off government-run Medicare is by definition nonsensical. But this kind of poll question is useful in ascertaining how receptive public opinion is to one or the other political claim, bogus or not.

Perhaps because the call for Congress to keep its "government hands off Medicare" was raised at the angry townhalls, PPP decided to check if people were at all likely to respond to that kind of argument. And lo and behold, a large minority was.

In fact, among those who voted for McCain in 2008, a whopping 62% agreed that "the government should stay out of Medicare".

You could take this factoid as an occasion to talk about a number of things - eg, the striking effectiveness of the conservative rhetorics against any kind of "public option", the failure of the media to educate viewers about even the most basic health care facts, or if you insist, the instinctive urge of Americans to reject government action (regardless of whether doing so even makes sense in the context of the question). But if nothing else, it raises the question how rational you can expect the public debate to be at all when basic awareness appears to be in such scarce supply.

Other findings of the same poll:

  • 10% of respondents did not "consider Hawaii to be part of the United States" (6%) or was not sure (4%).

  • 39% of respondents did not "think Barack Obama was born in the United States"(25%) or was not sure (14%).

  • Of McCain voters, almost two-thirds either did not think Obama was born in the US (43%) or was not sure (22%).

  • Let's break those last numbers down:
    - 10% of all respondents and 18% of McCain voters thought Obama was born in Indonesia.
    - A further 7% of all respondents and 14% of McCain voters thought Obama was born in Kenya.
    - Which means that yet another 22% of all respondents and 33% of McCain voters didn't think Obama was born in the US or wasn't sure, and also wasn't sure whether he was born in Indonesia, Kenya or somewhere else.

The fog of war?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 4 • Views: 3,992 • Replies: 10
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 06:40 pm
I take it you've never read any of Okie, Ican or Foxfyres posts.
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 06:54 pm
@dyslexia,
I would like to think they do not usually represent 40% of Americans.
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  2  
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 06:57 pm
@nimh,
Good to see you again, Nimh.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 07:06 pm
@nimh,
nimh wrote:
A leading question? Arguably so. A trick question even, since the proposition that the government should keep its hands off government-run Medicare is by definition nonsensical.


I've wondered if it's being interpreted by some as not wanting the government to change medicare.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 07:29 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Good point, Robert. That's a terrible way to pose a survey question unless you want to get a specific kind of dumb answer.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 08:28 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
I've wondered if it's being interpreted by some as not wanting the government to change medicare.

Fair point. Then again, this was a sentiment expressed by 62% of McCain voters and just 20% of Obama voters. Why would three times as many McCain voters be standing tall for the protection of Medicare as it is? Is satisfaction with Medicare higher among Republicans than Democrats?

(Reminds one that Ronald Reagan railed against Medicare much like today's Republicans rail against the public option -- labelling it "socialised medicine," he decried it as a "compulsory insurance" program that would pave the way for "other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country [until] we will awake to find that we have socialism".)

Dunno. I can't of the top of my head think of a reason why McCain supporters would suddenly come out as a bulwark of support to keep Medicare unchanged (sure, McCain voters tilted a bit more to older ages, but in nothing like such proportions) ... So while I think there may well have been respondents misunderstanding the question that way, it probably isn't the main thing driving the results. I'd still put my cards on misinformation and ignorance as main explanations.

Another new poll certainly points to misinformation and ignorance as drivers of the current debate. It comes from NBC and the WSJ, and here's some results summarised in graph form:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/crazypoll.jpg

Ezra Klein explains:

Quote:
The poll tested a variety of assertions that were simply wrong -- Was health-care reform likely to include [health insurance coverage to] illegal immigrants? A government takeover of the [health care] system? Taxpayer-funded abortions? The government deciding when to end care for the elderly? -- to see whether the false attacks were falling flat or actually worming their way into the public consciousness. The answer? Worming. Definitely worming.


old europe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 09:45 pm
@nimh,
I found this here, from the article about the poll, interesting:

Quote:
Also, while just 36 percent believe Obama’s efforts to reform the health system are a good idea, that number increases to 53 percent when respondents were read a paragraph describing Obama’s plans.


http://imgur.com/CVyL9.png

As Nate Silver puts it:

Quote:
That's a 17-point gap in support for the Democrats' health care plans when the plan is simply referred to as "Barack Obama's health care plan" versus when a reasonably fair description of the plan is actually provided to the respondents. Whence the source of the discrepancy?

Quote:
Majorities in the poll believe the plans would give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants; would lead to a government takeover of the health system; and would use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions " all claims that nonpartisan fact-checkers say are untrue about the legislation that has emerged so far from Congress.

Forty-five percent think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly.

I don't think that health care needs to reach approval as high as 53 percent in order for it to be a good idea for the Democrats to pass the initiative.





0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 11:32 pm
This sign reminded me of this thread.

http://images.huffingtonpost.com/gadgets/slideshows/2780/slide_2780_38631_large.jpg
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 07:18 am
@nimh,
nimh wrote:
I'd still put my cards on misinformation and ignorance as main explanations.


Hi nimh. It's good to see you....

Misinformation and ignorance get my vote too, along with the propensity for people to be sheep and accept the misinformation as fact.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 02:00 pm
@JPB,
The only choices are 'Yes', 'No", and "Not sure". How on earth could anyone answer the question with choices like that, without seeming to believe that government is not presently involved in Medicare?
0 Replies
 
 

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