THEIR LYING EYES…. When it comes to reform opponents pushing back against polls showing support for a public option, they have some credible options to choose from.
Conservatives could, for example, argue that there’s still some confusion about the policy details, so the poll results should be taken with a grain of salt. That’s not unreasonable. They could also argue that the public has simply embraced a bad idea, and that what it popular is not always right. That, too, is a plausible approach.
Simply pretending that the polls don’t exist, however, is far more annoying.
Yesterday, for example, Glenn Beck said only “35% of the population” supports the idea of public-private competition. Noting that Harry Reid has said “the public wants this,” Beck called the Majority Leader’s remarks “a lie.”
A Wall Street Journal editorial the other day was especially striking. It argued, “[T]he reality is that no one wants a public option except the political left.” The editorial board said the media is cooking the books “by asking rigged questions.”
Conservatives may find reality inconvenient, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
Let’s have a look at these “rigged questions.” Here is the wording of the Washington Post/ABC News poll, which tracked support for the public option from August through October at majorities of 52, 55, and 57 percent:
“Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans?”
Here is the wording of a September Kaiser Family Foundation poll, which tracked support for the public option from July through September at majorities of 59 percent, 59 percent, and 57 percent:
“Do you favor … [c]reating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans?”
Here is the wording of a September New York Times poll, which tracked support for the public option from July through September at majorities of 66 percent, 60 percent, and 65 percent:
“Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private health insurance plans?”
Here is the wording of a newly released CNN poll, which tracked support for the public option in August and October at majorities of 55 percent and 61 percent:
“Would you favor or oppose creating a public health insurance option administered by the federal government that would compete with plans offered by private health insurance companies?”
The public has consistently said it would like to see eligible consumers have a choice between competing public and private plans. Conservatives disagree? Fine. But let’s not pretend the polling data simply doesn’t exist.