Jim Lindgren illustrates why so much of the polling on health care reform is terrible.  Even outfits like NBC are asking questions which highlight only the nice sounding bits of the reform proposals:

Now I am going to tell you more about the health care plan that President Obama supports and please tell me whether you would favor or oppose it.

The plan requires that health insurance companies cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.  It also requires all but the smallest employers to provide health coverage for their employees, or pay a percentage of their payroll to help fund coverage for the uninsured.  Families and individuals with lower- and middle- incomes would receive tax credits to help them afford insurance coverage.  Some of the funding for this plan would come from raising taxes on wealthier Americans.

I'm surprised it only got 53% in favor. 

Now, what do you think those numbers would have been if NBC had included where the rest of the funding was coming from (cuts to Medicare), that it also will probably include Medicaid expansion, that it might include the creation of another state-sponsored insurance provider, or even the fact that the "plan" only manages to stay deficit-neutral by phasing in the taxes quickly, and the benefits in year four?

Of course, you could equally well get the opposite result--unlikely numbers of people rejecting it--if you phrased the question differently.  Yet people have been musing on the puzzling disconnect between people's answer to this question, and the fact that more people mistrust the government's activity than want it to go forward.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.