Reality and Polling

Andrew has a post titled "Reality and the Wall Street Journal" in which he lays into Scott Rasmussen for daring to claim, in the Wall Street Journal, that health care reform is unpopular:

And yet the latest YouGov poll, reflecting the direction of many others, now shows a majority favoring reform, 53 - 47, as I noted yesterday. And Pollster's poll of polls, excluding Rasmussen's outlier numbers, favoring the old, white and Republican, show a dramatic rise in support this past month, as the consequences of getting nothing at all begin to sink in:

Even if you include Rasmussen's consistently outlier polling, as Chait notes, you get this:

Okay, first off: Rasmussen is an outlier on presidential approval, not on health care, where it has always been pretty much solidly middle of the pack, and occasionally kinder to the Democrats.  The YouGov poll is an outlier.  YouGov polls approval higher because it doesn't offer a "don't know" option, and people tend to be biased towards affirmative answers when they're being polled.  (Pollsters like to say that you can get 110-5% to support just about anything).  YouGov's current results are probably an outlier even for YouGov's polls, though I agree with Andrew that the polls have definitely trended less negative on reform in the past few weeks.  Taking Rasmussen out skews the results so much because YouGov and Rasmussen poll much more frequently than most of the other organizations on the list.

The fact is, the public is still opposed.  We're in the middle of a natural cycle where more optimistic polls are dominating--AFP/GFK is just about exactly where it was before, but where it was before is less negative than, say, CNN or Marist.  Maybe the public will cross the finish line over the next few weeks; on the other hand, maybe we're seeing a bump from Obama's roundtable that will abate the same way his September speech did, replaced by the unfavorable coverage that is about to follow constituent meetings in various districts. Either way, Rasmussen is not wrong:  more people have opposed this bill than favored it since July, and that is still the case today.