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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Stickiness of Craziness

What with conservative opinion-leaders beginning to concede that the “death panel” claim about health care reform is, as the editors of National Review put it, “hysteria,” it’s a bit depressing to note that a lot of Americans still buy it.
According to a new Pew poll, 86% of Americans have heard the “death panel” claim. Of those, 30% think it’s true; 50% think it’s false; and 20% don’t know. The partisan breakdowns? Nearly half (47%) of self-identified Republicans think that health reform legislation will, indeed, lead to “death panels.” The number drops to 28% among independents, but then a startling 20% of Democrats think it’s true.
Now when Sarah Palin started this nonsense with her famous Facebook post, lots of observers thought she had finally jumped the shark and had discredited herself for the foreseeable future. Anyone who dismisses her chances for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 should reflect on the fact that half her party has gone along with her ravings. I’d be willing to bet the number goes a lot higher among the conservative activists–heavily dominated by her fellow hard-core right-to-lifers–who participate in the GOP’s Iowa Caucuses.

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