Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 22, 2011

POPULAR SUPPORT FOR REPEAL STILL HIDING WELL.... Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Thursday called the Affordable Care Act the "crown jewel of socialism," which, even for her, is idiotic. More importantly, though, she said, "The American people have said overwhelmingly that they want this bill repealed." In fact, Bachmann believes opposition to the law is getting stronger as time goes on.

This isn't uncommon. Republicans appear convinced that their crusade against the reform law -- it stopped being a "bill" last March, Michele -- enjoys overwhelming public support.

The evidence to the contrary is hard to miss. The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll found that just 18% of the country supports the GOP plan to repeal the entirety of the law. Greg Sargent gave the latest New York Times/CBS News poll a close look, and found even more striking results.

The NYT/CBS poll then asked the pro-repeal camp whether they want to "repeal all of the health care law, or only certain parts of it." Suddenly the number who favor full repeal drops to 20 percent -- one-fifth -- while 18 percent peel off and say they want to repeal "certain parts."

It gets even better. The poll then asked people who support repeal an open-ended question: Which parts of the law do you want done away with? The number who said "everything" drops again, this time to eight percent. Eleven percent want the individual mandate repealed. But guess what? The number who called for repeal of other key individual items in the bill -- the pre-existing conditions piece; the coverage for people up to age 26; and so on -- was consistently one percent or less for each of them.

Now, some will say this proves nothing: People don't know what's in the bill, so they can't say what they want repealed. But this is exactly the point. Fine-grained polling reveals that people who say they want repeal may be expressing generalized frustration about the bill, or dislike of certain parts, such as the individual mandate, rather than a desire to see it blown to smithereens.

My point here is not to suggest the Democrats' health care reform package is popular. It's not. We can explore why -- Americans don't know what's in it; Dems did a pretty awful job selling it; the right-wing propaganda campaign has been effective; etc. -- but the fact remains that while the law enjoys stronger support than it did last year, the gains have been fairly small. The ACA remains a contentious national issue.

But by most measures, the most detailed polling suggests the Republican plan to eliminate the entirety of the law enjoys far less support than the law itself. There are quite a few very popular measures in the Affordable Care Act, and for the GOP to assume that Americans want policymakers to eliminate them is folly.

Bachmann and her ilk don't have to agree with these attitudes, but when they pretend the attitudes don't exist, sensible people should know not to take them seriously.

Steve Benen 10:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

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Don't bother arguing reality and facts with Bachmann.
You'd have better luck explaining String Theory to a Klansman.
At least when you mention string, you'll get his attention, and he'll hope you continue on to rope.

Posted by: cund gulag on January 22, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Asking questions of the ill and uninformed voter is like a rube in a French restaurant ordering Pommes Frites, then saying, "yes", when the waiter asks, "do you want fries with that?"

Posted by: DAY on January 22, 2011 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

. . . but when they pretend the attitudes don't exist, sensible people should know not to take them seriously.

But the "journalists" of the corporate-controlled media will argue that if they don't take seriously people who pretend that facts they don't like don't exist, then they would have to ignore the Republican party completely.

Kind of like the way that they treat liberal Democrats now.

Posted by: SteveT on January 22, 2011 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

What a bizarro universe we live in. The Democrats pass a health care plan that the GOP would have loved 10 or 15 years ago, but now it's the "Crown Jewel of Socialism."

Posted by: Speed on January 22, 2011 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

10 or 15 years ago Bachmann was a fringe element of the GOP. She is pushing into the mainstream of the GOP today.

Posted by: the seal on January 22, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Bachmann's statement is obviously wrong. (What else is new?) But so is some of the excerpted work by Greg Sargent.

For example, Sargent says this about the NYT survey:

"It gets even better. The poll then asked people who support repeal an open-ended question: Which parts of the law do you want done away with?"

But that plainly isn't what people were asked. If Greg had simply quoted the question instead of paraphrasing, his argument would start to break down. Greg also fails to note an oddity about the NYT survey: People who supported repeal were questioned further, producing a breakdown in their response. But people who opposed repeal weren't questioned further. (They weren't asked if they "want to retain all of the plan, or only parts of it.")

At any rate, that one statement by Greg is flat-out wrong, and it's wrong in a way which matters. Click the link to check the actual questions and you'll see what I mean.

Posted by: bob somerby on January 22, 2011 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

@DAY at 10:28 AM

I wouldn't have understood that joke at all if I hadn't just read about the popularity of Pomme frites in the local paper's free magazine yesterday.

Posted by: knightphoenix2 on January 22, 2011 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Since you believe that the stories of unpopularity of the Obamacare law are lies, I strongly urge you to contact Harry Reid and make sure he brings it to the floor of the Senate for a vote. After all, that would prove you correct, wouldn't it ?

Posted by: Mike K on January 22, 2011 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm getting sick of Fatty Hucklberry's ad & petition to stop health care for Americans, he says it was written in the dead of night (all 2000 pages) and no-one read it. Most of us do not have amnesia and remember the long drawn out negotiations and that it was on line to read. We also don't forget the payoffs the repubs took from the healthcare industry to stop the bill - so - up yours Huckleberry.

Posted by: JS on January 22, 2011 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K - with all due respect, the senate had a vote and passed the bill, they are now wasting time and it is time they could spend on creating the jobs they said they would create.

Posted by: Joan on January 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

sargent: "The poll then asked people who support repeal an open-ended question: 'Which parts of the law do you want done away with'"

bob somerby "But that plainly isn't what people were asked."

the question from the poll; "What part of the health care law that was passed last year would you MOST like to see repealed?"

the responses:

Insurance Mandate 11%
Everything 8%
Government involvement 1%
Funding abortions 1%
Medicare 1%
Higher premiums 1%
Higher taxes (General) 1%
Requiring businesses to provide insurance -
Paying for uninsured -
Death panels -
Taxing health insurance plans -
Health care for illegal immigrants -
No choice -
Prescription drugs -
Cover children to age 26 -
Cover pre-existing conditions -
Other 1%
DK/NA 14%

the " - " indicates less than 1%

Posted by: dj spellchecka on January 22, 2011 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

One again, the only poll that matters to Republicans is the one that happened on Nov 5th. And in that poll the party explicitly advocating repeal of the Health bill WON.

Maybe if all the progressives who stayed home in some vague effort to 'send a message' to Democrats had shown up and voted we wouldn't be in this situation.

Posted by: thorin-1 on January 22, 2011 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Most people don't really understand the law and its implications. To tell the truth, me neither. But what common sense indicate is that you have to give the law a chance to work, and to modify it as problems arise, rather than erase it and propose nothing to replace it, which basically is the present republican position. I think democrats should say this argument, because is an argument that the common folk could understand (and it is basically what the poll is saying).

Posted by: adjacent on January 22, 2011 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

The lastest "do you favior full repeal of the ACA?" poll showed only 18% of Americans favor full repeal. Do we need a Little League slaughter rule for political non-issues? I assume this 18% included Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, Krauthammer, Hannity, Murdoch, Savage, Frau Bachmann, Malin, Ailes, and any surviving SS and Nazi Party members still alive in Paraguay. Lets move on to the next Big Lie.

Posted by: max on January 22, 2011 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think someone in WaPo put it best this morning - they were elected to help create jobs and they're giving us a culture war instead. You knew they would overreach, it's all they know how to do. Thank God they're stupid.

Posted by: max on January 23, 2011 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK



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