Western Exposure

‘Public option’ has been swift boated, pollster says

By August 26, 2009March 19th, 20152 Comments

An Internet poll shows that nearly 8 in 10 Americans support a federal health insurance plan for those who can’t afford or can’t get private insurance, and 86 percent say insurance should be available to everyone regardless of health history.

Wow. You wouldn’t know that from the folks shouting and yelling at town hall meetings, or holding up signs with pictures of Obama with Hitler mustaches, or from those trading freely in loaded Nazi terminology when criticizing attempts to reform the ailing health care system in this country. That would be the health care system that ties health care so closely to employment, and that denies health care coverage to the sick or those with pre-existing conditions, that is responsible for a huge proportion of medical bankruptcies , that is is expensive that even many of those who are working can’t afford it. That one.

The pollster says the term “public option” has been “swift boated,” so large is the misunderstanding that has grown up around what it means, Allison Sherry reports in the  Denver Post. In fact, only 37 percent of respondents define it correctly. The poll was released at an AARP Forum in Denver in conjunction with Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report.

One-fourth of those polled believe the “public option” is a national health care system, similar to the one in Great Britain.

“These two words have become radioactive, they have been swift-boated,” said William Mann, senior vice president of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, the firm that conducted the poll. “There is a real misunderstanding.”

For those who want to understand what they’re talking about, the Sacramento Bee takes a look today at how health care reform affects businesses, including the perspective of a small business owner worried about added costs, and  including a useful compilation of the key details of three competing plans working their way through Congress.

— Rita Hibbard

Rita Hibbard

Rita Hibbard



  • Charles says:

    wait. an “Internet poll?” What the heck does that mean? I am fully in support of a public option and would like to believe most people are as well, but what validity does an Internet poll have? I looked at the actual PDF from the org that did it and the methodology doesn’t say anything about how they contacted people. Was this a poll taken of people who went to a site to take it? This just doesn’t seem to be a very vaild sounding poll.

  • rhibbard says:

    Thank you for the response, Charles.

    With the rapid decline of landlines, telephone polls are becoming increasingly faulty sources of polling, as you probably know. Because so many people have cell phones only, the pool of respondents is becoming skewed. So polling companies are increasingly looking for ways to use Internet polling, not surveys, to get results. I too, had the same questions you did, so I went to the organization’s Web site and looked at what they said about how they do Internet polling. It won’t answer all your questions – it didn’t answer all of mine – and I’m sure some of what they do and how they do it is proprietary. But it’s interesting, and you’ll probably find it useful. Here’s the paragraph in particular, and I’ll give you the page link too.

    Hope this helps. Rita


    From the Web site of the polling company, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates.

    Internet Surveys Group
    ISG was an early pioneer in Internet research and has become a global leader in online survey programming, sampling, hosting, and reporting. Our in-house survey programmers, flash developers, web designers and sampling experts create customizable and interactive survey experiences quickly and efficiently. Our interviews are conducted on our state-of-the-art server farm, giving us the flexibility and scalability to conduct thousands of concurrent online interviews around the world 24/7. ISG is also an innovator in sampling methodologies, applying RDD techniques to online sampling and using our proprietary data quality protocols to ensure validity. ISG has conducted over three million online interviews on six continents and knows how to deliver representative sample and innovative analysis.

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