Yeah, it turns out people aren’t as hungry when they find out the free lunch isn’t free. The next time you hear a lefty droning about conservative misinformation on health care, be sure to point out that those robust poll numbers they like to cite for, say, the public option are usually based on questions that posit no adverse consequences. Toss in an adverse consequence or two, particularly related to cost, and, well…

When poll questions were framed broadly, the answers seemed to indicate ample support for Obama’s goals. When required trade-offs were brought into the equation, opinions shifted — sometimes dramatically…

“These trade-offs really matter,” says Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who follows opinion trends. “The legislation contains a number of features that polls have shown to be popular, but support for the overall legislation is less than might be expected because people are worried there are details about these bills that could raise their families’ costs.”…

For example, asked if everyone should be required to have at least some health insurance, 67 percent agreed and 27 percent said no.

The responses flipped when people were asked about requiring everybody to carry insurance or face a federal penalty: 64 percent said they would be opposed, while 28 percent favored that.

Specify jail time as a penalty and see what you get then. Another example: Support for requiring private insurers to cover people regardless of preexisting conditions drops from 82 percent to 43/31 when respondents are told it would mean higher premiums for everyone. Jay Cost was all over this phenomenon last month with respect to polling on the public option but it’s gratifying to see the AP picking it up, as it might — might — force other pollsters to be more thorough with their questions. Meanwhile, even without running through a checklist of trade-offs, respondents break 41/43 against ObamaCare overall. If support for the program hasn’t yet gotten a bounce from the passage of PelosiCare, when’s it happening?

This is a rare case where it’s worth reading the AP’s poll analysis in full, as it’s littered with quotes from people fretting about costs and, in at least one case, tax hikes. Those wingnuts and their crazy ideas.

Tags: Barack Obama