The Problem With Polls — Part II

Earlier this week, I offered comments regarding a New York Times/CBS News poll that claimed 72 percent of Americans supported the creation of a government-run health plan.  I said that the idea of more choices would always generate an overwhelming “yes” answer if respondents were not apprised of the possible consequences of the policy change.

This morning, the Washington Post and ABC News echoed this comment.

A Post/ABC poll showed that 62 percent of the public offers an initial positive response to the government health plan concept, but when told that this new structure might cause some private insurers to go out of business, support drops sharply to 37 percent.

Post reporters Ceci Connolly and Jon Cohen wrote in the article accompanying the survey results, “Survey questions that equate the public option approach with the popular, patient-friendly Medicare system tend to get high approval as do ones that emphasize the prospect of more choices.  But when framed with an explicit counterargument, the idea receives a more tepid response.”

Let’s hope we see fewer blanket statements in the national discourse that the American people overwhelmingly favor a government-run health plan.  As the Washington Post and ABC News point out today, it’s not that simple.