Closer Look at Latest NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll Reveals Bad Analysis, Worse Question

Posted on by Karina

Poll after poll has found Americans support a public option as part of the health insurance reform embodied by America's Affordable Health Choices Act. While a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out today claims to show declining support for the public option, a closer look at analysis of the poll reveals the change is statistically insignificant and the description of the public option is inconsistent and inaccurate.

Problems with the analysis of the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:

Wording of Poll Changed — Choice is kept out of the poll: In July, NBC News/Wall Street Journal changed their description of the public option, eliminating “choice” from the question. When “choice” was included in the June 12-15, 2009 version of the poll, 76 percent of respondents felt giving “people a choice” of a “public plan administered by the federal government” was important (“extremely” or “quite”) while only 20 percent responded “not that important” or “not at all important”.

NBC/WSJ poll

No statistically significant change: The 3 percent change from last month is less than the poll's 3.5 percent margin of error.

Poll after poll has shown Americans want the choice of a public option:
That is why pollster Mark Mellman wrote, “Voters Settle on a public plan.”

A public plan generates barely a ripple of controversy among voters. In the last two months, no fewer than eight polls have found strong majorities favoring a public plan. When different pollsters, using different methods and different wording, all converge on the same answer, you can bet the public really does support a public option.

Time and again polls have found support for a public option, including:

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found 62 percent in favor of giving people the option of a government insurance plan. Only 32 percent are opposed.

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 59 percent support “creating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private insurance plans.”

Latest New York Times/CBS News poll found 66 percent favor the government “offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan… that would compete with private health insurance plans.”

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