Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Washington Post Headline Person part II for Today !

The headline Poll: Bipartisanship popular, compromise tricky

ignores the non-obvious result of the poll -- 63% of US adults want congress to keep trying to pass comprehensive health-care reform. The alternative is to advise congress to "give up" so the question is clearly biased. Still 63% is a big number, way more than support for existing bills.

This suggests that people in the USA refuse to understand how limited currently avaialable options are. I think (and I think all experts agree) that either a bill similar to the Senate bill passes now* or the issue is dropped for a while (say another 15 years like last time). Support for more work on a bill but neither of the current bills is, I think, partly based on an unwillingness to make irreversible choices (even when polled) and partly based on ignorance of the power of the filibuster (see post below).

The evidence of support for bipartisanship is from another question where 54% of US adults say Obama is doing at least enough to compromise with Republicans. How could US adults convince the Post that they are not hungering for more bipartisanship ?

Also when reporting the poll Jon Cohen says that 60 is about equal to 40

"Americans spread the blame when it comes to the lack of cooperation in Washington, and, in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, most want the two sides to keep working to pass comprehensive health-care reform.

Nearly six in 10 in the new poll say the Republicans aren't doing enough to forge compromise with President Obama on important issues; more than four in 10 see Obama as doing too little to get GOP support.

I don't see any reason to round to one digit. The actual numbers are that 58% say Republicans are doing to little to compromise with Obama and 44% say Obama is doing to little to compromise with Republicans. I think a correct description of the results is "Most US adults think Republicans are doing to little to compromise with Obama. US adults are divided on whether Obama is doing to little to compromise with Republicans.

The fact in the poll is that the fraction who say Obama is doing too little 44% is very close to the fraction who say Obama is doing the the right amount 45%. Both are significantly below the fraction who think Republicans are doing too little 58%.

Another way of putting it would be "marjorities of US adults say Republicans are doing too little to compromise with Obama and that Obama is doing at least enough to compromise with Republicans"

This is because, as noted above, 58%>50%, 9% say Obama is doing too much and 54%> 50%.

Why does the Cohen feel the need to take a poll which shows a very clear difference in perceptions of Republicans and Obama and pretend it doesn't ?



*for now -- that is everyone who knows how Washington works agrees that if nothing like the Senate bill passes now, the issue is dead for a while. Some, including me, think the House can then add replace the excise tax with a tax on individual income over $500,000 and family income over $1,000,000 plus a public option plus medicare buy in as part of the 2011 budget and that Reid can then use the budget recociliation process all only after the House passes the damn bill (see next post).

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