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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

TDS Co-Editor Teixera: Obama’s Speech Clarified Health Reform for Viewers

President Obama’s speech on health reform last week ” went far toward dispelling confusion and promoting clarity,” according to TDS Co-editor Ruy Teixeira, who explains in his latest CAP ‘Public Opinion Snapshot’ that conservatives,

…didn’t like President Barack Obama’s speech last Wednesday on health care reform….Recall these data from last week’s snapshot: At that point (before the speech) the public, by a 60 percent- to 31-percent margin, said the president had not clearly explained his plans for health care reform. But among those who watched the speech last Wednesday views are now quite different. According to a CNN post-speech poll, 72 percent now believe he has clearly stated his goals for a health care bill, compared to just 26 percent who thought he could have been clearer in his speech.

Teixeira cautions that a need to be cautious in interpreting the data because “those interested enough to watch the speech—compared to the public as a whole—are a group relatively sympathetic to the president.” Still, Teixeira explains, it’s “striking how successful Obama was in clearly communicating his goals,” and he adds:

Moreover, a dial testing study conducted by Democracy Corps among independent and weak partisan voters in Colorado suggests that he did not just succeed among those sympathetic to him to begin with. Among the group studied by Democracy Corps—about evenly split between initial supporters and initial opponents of Obama’s health care approach and between Obama and McCain voters in last year’s election—support for Obama’s health care plan went up from 46 percent to 66 percent over the course of the speech.

Even better, Obama appears to have smashed Republican myth-mongering in key issue areas of health reform:

…Those who thought “will get health care costs under control” described health care reform well went up from 42 to 64 percent; those who thought health care reform will allow you to keep your current insurer and doctor if you choose increased from 54 to 80 percent; those who thought health care reform meant increasing competition and lowering prices for health coverage went up from 44 to 74 percent; and those who thought health care reform will give individuals and families more choice and control increased from 36 to 60 percent.

The President’s speech had it’s critics among Democrats who felt it didn’t adequately support key progressive priorities. But Teixeira makes it clear that, in terms of changing public views on the Democratic reform package, it appears to have been a solid success.

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