How does one define “mainstream”? The WaPo/ABC poll shows, even with its skewed sample, that ObamaCare is opposed 48%-46% by adults overall, let alone registered or likely voters. That’s slightly better than the 50%-45% a month ago, but it took a presidential speech and an even bigger Dem-Rep gap in the sample to get it. Strictly speaking, the mainstream view was out on the street, not in the Oval Office, but don’t expect David Axelrod to admit that on Face the Nation:
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Axelrod, what do you make of this demonstration yesterday on the streets of Washington? Do you, do you think it’s indicative of the nation’s mood, and what message do you have this morning for those people who were on the streets here yesterday?
AXELROD: Well, first of all Bob, I don’t think it’s indicative of the nation’s mood. In fact, I don’t believe that some of the angriest, strident, most strident voices we saw during the summer were representative of the thousands of town hall meetings that went on around the country, that came off peacefully, that were constructive, people voicing their points of view. But this, you know, one of the great things about our country is that people can express themselves, even if they’re not representative of the majority. Your own poll, taken after the President’s speech, suggests that they don’t represent a mainstream view of this health-care plan, and so, you know, I don’t think we ought to be distracted by that.
My message to them is: they’re wrong. The President made it very, very clear that he wants to build on the system that we have, that he wants to fix what’s wrong with it, so that insurance company bureaucrats can’t rule arbitrarily over the lives of their customers in ways that are very significant, that people don’t go broke because of out-of-pocket costs from the insurance companies, and we want to make sure that people who can’t afford health care today because they’re, they don’t get it from their employer, can get health care at a price they can afford. Right now, they have to pay three times as much as anyone else. So that’s what this is about. We ought to focus on what it’s about and not on distortions of it.
The poll to which Axelrod refers surveyed those who watched the speech. It started with a sample of 648 adults, only 53% of whom watched the speech, or 388 adults. CBS weighted them down to 345 for their analysis, and a poll of less than 400 adults in either case is hardly a reliable sample.
But who watched the speech? Not surprisingly, a lot more Democrats than Republicans. The sample had a 15-point gap between them, 42% Democrat to 27% Republican. This makes it no more useful than a website poll for its predictive value. The fact that Axelrod latched onto it demonstrates his desperation more than anything else.
As far as “peaceful” protests go, it’s worth noting that the only significant violence at these town-hall forums came when union thugs acted as enforcers for ObamaCare. Until they beat an ObamaCare opponent to a pulp in St. Louis, the meetings had been peaceful, if loud.
Barack Obama sent Axelrod out to spin for the White House, and Axelrod spun hard enough to show their desperation. Despite their protestations, the administration is well aware that the town-hall demonstrations and the march on Washington this weekend represent “mainstream” views.