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One more thing about polling

When I wrote about the Rasmussen problem, I said that they were the only outfit polling on a lot of “issue” questions. That’s not totally true, though nobody does nearly as much of that as Rasmussen does. The UT/Trib poll from last week did some issue polling as well, and they got a similar result as Rasmussen on the question of the Affordable Care Act (60% in the UT/Trib poll said they oppose it) and the anti-ACA lawsuit (57% of those polled support it). But you really have to go back to the crosstabs to understand what this means. I’ll break it down for you:

Approval of the Affordable Care Act Ideology Approve Disapprove ================================== Liberal 75.2% 11.1% Moderate 41.0% 37.2% Conservative 6.7% 88.3% Party Approve Disapprove ================================== Democrat 64.6% 15.6% Independent 19.2% 69.9% Republican 2.3% 93.5%

You can see the data for this on page 104. Putting it another way, and bearing in mind that a number of Democrats have from the beginning disapproved of the legislation because it didn’t go far enough, this poll is basically a recapitulation of party ID. I mean, a grand total of eight self-identified Republicans out of 355 total said they approved of the ACA. You couldn’t get a stronger consensus if you polled the approval rating of breathing. The poll had more Republicans than Democrats, and more conservatives than liberals, so the end result is a strong showing for repeal, which I must note puts Texas out of touch with the rest of America. Make of that what you will.

The data for the lawsuit, for which AG Greg Abbott is a leading player, is basically the same:

Approval of AG Abbott's anti-ACA lawsuit Ideology Approve Disapprove ================================== Liberal 8.3% 77.6% Moderate 30.8% 42.9% Conservative 85.0% 6.5% Party Approve Disapprove ================================== Democrat 11.9% 64.9% Independent 65.8% 24.7% Republican 91.0% 2.8%

The data for this is on page 114. Other than the Democratic respondents’ oddly high “Don’t Know” response to this question, which was almost exactly double the “Support” response, there are no surprises here.

Now, none of this invalidates the poll result. The numbers are what they are, and as I noted before, the sample is quite close to historical norms for demographics of the voting population, and that does present a challenge for Democratic candidates. I do think it’s important to understand the context here, however. The opposition to the Affordable Care Act is not across the board. These numbers are driven by the fanatical, near-unanimous opposition of Republicans. In fact, if Republicans’ approve/disapprove numbers were mirror images of the Democrats’, disapproval of the ACA would be only a plurality, 44.6% to 36.3%, with nearly 20% of respondents having no opinion. The actual numbers are not about policy, they’re about politics. They may well have electoral implications this fall, but I expect the intensity to fade over time. After all, Republicans used to hate Medicare, too.

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  1. Actually IMO the large proportion of independents opposing the ACA is significant. More people these days do not self identify with either party.

  2. Except that the sample size for the self-identified “independents” is tiny, something like 73 people. I commented on that in my post about the UT/Trib’s White/Perry poll, and was told by James Henson that they have such a small number of indies because they press people about which way they lean. The subsample here isn’t big enough to draw any conclusions about.

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