Apples-to-oranges polling

Quick! What do the latest polls show about Americans’ attitudes toward health care reform?

Pollster Scott Rasmussen doesn’t blame you if they’ve provided no clarity. The commentary surrounding the polls is to blame, according to Rasmussen, who writes a treatise today explaining why one of his and one from the Kaiser Foundation appear to show two entirely different results.

For example, the Rasmussen Reports poll found that in late November 38% favored the plan working its way through Congress and 56% are opposed. At the same time, a majority of Americans say that major changes are needed in the health care system.

The Kaiser Foundation poll found that 35% want reform and like what they hear about the current proposals in Congress. Fifty-nine percent (59%) either don’t like the current proposals (33%) or don’t want Congress to pass health care reform at all.

The difference between 35% who like the current plans in the Kaiser poll is essentially the same as the 38% who favor it in the Rasmussen poll. So is the opposite–59% in the Kaiser poll and 56% in the Rasmussen poll. Both polls show a majority desire to pass some kind of reform.

So, how did the blog posting conclude that the results were so different? Because they compared a Kaiser question about health care reform in general to a Rasmussen question about the plan working its way through Congress. At a time when people want reform but don’t like what they’re hearing about the Congressional plan, that’s a pretty big difference. Compare apples to oranges and you make a mess.

Here’s Rasmussen’s post.

Meanwhile, a poll out today shows 57 percent said their access to health care would stay the same under the reform plans. And 61 percent said their personal financial situation would stay about the same

  • John P.

    The problem becomes even murkier when you ask the general population about something they know very little about.

    I’ll wager that more people have been scared by misinformation about these bills than have any reliable facts to reference.

  • Bobbydole

    nate silver had a good article a while back on the way the pollsters ask their questions so the polls will lend one way or another..

    It was pretty interesting..