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U-T editorial misleads readers—again

August 24, 2009 - 11:42 am

In one of this morning’s editorials, the Union-Tribune claims that “many Americans oppose” the so-called “public option” part of proposed healthcare reform “because they think that it will undermine private insurance.” The editorial also claims that “Obamacare is unpopular with the majority of Americans.” It appears that the editorial writer is doing some kind of language dance aimed at implying that there are more Americans opposed to the idea of setting up a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurance than there are who are supportive of it.

This was intriguing because at least before the wingnuts began disrupting all those town-hall meetings, polls had been showing pretty strong public support for the public option. So, I did some web surfing and found this post on the respected politics website FiveThirtyEight.com. It assesses the various polls that have been done on the public option, finding that many of them are likely to mislead or confuse respondents—either in favor of the public option or against it. It says the best polls are ones that make it clear that the proposal is for a “government” program that offers “insurance,” not “care,” and makes it clear that private insurance is still an option.

It identifies two polls that asked the right question—the Quinnipiac poll and the Time/SRBI poll. The Quinnipiac poll found that 62 percent of respondents favor a public option versus 32 percent who oppose it, while the Time/SRBI poll found that 56 percent support a public option versus 36 percent who don’t. Interestingly, the third-best poll, according to FiveThirtyEight, which was vague on the matter of whether private insurance would still be an option, found that 41 percent of respondents liked the public option versus 33 percent opposed. That ambiguity seemed to result in less support, but no more opposition.

So, once again, be careful what facts you take away from a U-T editorial.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Boggs permalink
    August 24, 2009 - 4:41 pm 4:41 pm

    They are always misbehavin’ over there at the U-T editorial board. It has only gotten more right wing since Kittle left … is Chris Reed writing all of these editorials?

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