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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Pollster Says Beware of Polls on Health Reform

We all know that public opinion polls have shown declining levels of support for health care reform. But as Jeremy
Rosner, of the public opinion firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, explains today at HuffPo, polls only explain things in a limited way.
Rosner offers five reasons you should doubt polls showing health reform is in deep trouble:
1. Polls under-emphasize the heavy-weights in policy fights. Many health care interest groups are actually on the side of reform this time around.
2. Polls don’t reflect what happens in safe districts. Most Members of Congress are immune to Town Hall pressures.
3. Polls miss the dynamics of anticipation. Public opinion may well change if health reform is enacted and none of the fabricated concerns about it actually occur.
4. Polls don’t factor in the political balance. Obama got a lot more votes than Clinton did, and has a stronger and more ideologically committed Democratic majority in Congress.
5. Polls miss the role of representatives’ judgment. Members of Congress do come to the vote with a variety of personal feelings and judgments on the substance of health care reform, and that often matters more to them that day-to-day polling.
In other words, says the expert pollster, polls do miss a lot on issues like health care reform. And that’s worth considering when staring at polls while trying to understand what might actually happen in Congress this autumn.

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