Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vox Populi

The voice of the people. We hear about the latest poll and we are told what it is that we Americans think and what it is that we want. Pollsters and politicians and pundits find our American voice and spray it across the airwaves and over cable networks. Forgetting that many of us spoke as loudly as we are Constitutionally allowed in November of 2008 when we voted to elect President Obama.

Understanding polls isn't something that any of us are taught in our public high schools or in most colleges. Here is one poll.

Study #6099
NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey
December 2009
Interviews: 1,008 adults, including
Washington, DC 20009 104 reached by cell phone
(202) 234-5570 Date: December 11-14, 2009

From this poll the following has been highlighted on RealClearPolitics, on FOX and on MSNBC:

Obama and Democrats' Health Care Plan

Poll NBC News/Wall St. Jrnl
Date 12/11-12/14
Sample 1008 A(adults)
For 32
Against 47
Spread Against/Oppose +15

It seems clear that only 32% of those polled are in favor of President Obama's proposed Health Care Reform Plan. Unfortunately, that isn't what the poll says and it isn't what those numbers mean.

The following questions were part of the poll and haven't been posted to explain the lead in above, but, they certainly help to explain why only 32% of those polled support the bill as it stands today in the Senate.

30. As health care legislation is being debated in Congress, some changes to the legislation are being proposed. I am going to read you some of these proposed changes, and for each one, please tell me whether that proposed change is acceptable to you or not acceptable to you.

The proposed legislation would no longer create a public health care plan administered by the federal government to compete directly with private health insurance companies .....................................................

Acceptable 42
Not Acceptable 45
Not Sure 13

Instead of creating a government-administered public health care plan, the proposed legislation would create a health insurance plan offered by private insurers that would be available in every state for people who lack employer-provided coverage, and would allow people between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-four years old to buy into Medicare, the government health care plan for seniors .................

Acceptable 58
Not Acceptable 32
Not Sure 10

Do only 32% of the 1008 respondents support President Obama's plan for Health Care Reform as it stood when it left the floor of the House? No. Only 32% of respondents support the current Senate bill. If that weren't the case why would 45% consider the current Senate bill, stripped of a Public Option by Joe Lieberman to be unacceptable? And why would 58% of respondents favor the Medicare buy in that Joe Lieberman suggested in September of 2009 and then demanded that the Democrats remove from the current bill?

Take just a moment to examine those who responded to this poll:

F1b/c. A lot of people are unable to get out and vote for many reasons. Did you happen to vote in last November's election for president? (IF “YES,” ASK:) For whom did you vote––Barack Obama, John McCain, or someone else?

Yes, Voted
Voted for Barack Obama ................40
Voted for John McCain .................37
Voted for someone else .................4
Not sure ...............................4
No, Did Not Vote ......................13
Not sure ...............................2

Of those who responded to this poll 4% don't know who they voted for in November of 2008, 13% didn't vote and 2% don't remember whether they voted or not.

If you read the entire poll you'll note that 27% of respondents get their news from FOX.

Polls are more than the one line and one set of numbers that the media shows us. We have to read the entire poll and examine those who were polled in order to understand what it is that we're being told.

Rather than the voice of the people, polls have become no more than a sound byte, part of the noise of the day. If you want the vox populi to be heard, your voice, vote, or, between elections, call or write to your Senator or Representative.

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