The NYT/CBS poll is junk - and bad news for Obamacare

This is what propaganda looks like:

Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind [72%] one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.


Bruce Kesler points out that — in traditional NYT/CBS fashion — the sample is badly skewed:

According to the actual poll data, of the 73% of respondents who said they voted in 2008 only 34% voted for McCain and 66% for Obama. The actual vote was 48% McCain.

This is a good example of why reading a poll is as much art as science, because the first problem is the percentage who say they voted in the 2008 election. In reality, no more than 62% of eligible voters cast ballots last year. Accordingly, the poll has sampled a lot of adults who were ineligible to vote… or, as often happens, respondents lied about voting. In such cases, the lie tends to skew in favor of the winner.

Does that mean the sample might be more valid than Kesler suggests? Not in this case. In this poll, the sample identified as 27% liberal, 37% moderate, and 29% conservative. In contrast, last week’s Gallup Poll showed Americans identify as 21% liberal, 35% moderate, and 40% conservative.

But wait… there’s more. The same NYT/CBS poll previously published more information about this very sample, showing that 16% was temporarily out of work, and another 10% was not in the market for work. Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg tells us that those who have been unemployed within the past year (or have an immediate family member in that category) are the most supportive of a government takeover of the US healthcare system. So a sample with much higher unemployment than the national average tells us something about the skew here also.


While the NYT trumpets the supposed support for a public plan among its skewed sample (which was not asked about support in the event they were to be dumped into the public plan by their employers), the rest of the results are bad news for Obamacare. The number who say the system needs fundamental change is almost exactly what it was in 1993-94. The number who trust the president to make the right decisions on healthcare policy is almost exactly what it was in 1993 — the number who trust Congress has actually declined. Both are below 40% in trust.

The number who would be willing to pay higher taxes to fund Obamacare (57%) is lower than in 1993. Of those willing to pay higher taxes, only 43% would be willing to pay as much as $500 a year more in taxes. That means fewer than 25% of a sample largely skewed towards liberals are willing to pay an amount far less than what Obamacare may actually require.

In short, the skewed NYT/CBS poll is no better for the Democrats than any of the other recent polls. In some ways, it is worse.

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