At the height of the gun control debate, politicians touted a poll that supposedly showed that 95% to 97% of Americans supported universal background checks for gun purchases. That was supposed to be the reason that we needed to pass laws making additional requirements and restrictions on gun-owning Americans. How could the “gun lobby” say “No” to all those Americans?
Politicians in both parties use these types of polls to their advantage. But sometimes, the polls aren’t consistent with what they want to do. And they do it anyway, in spite of the disparity in opinion among the electorate.
Jay Carney was asked recently at a press conference about opinion polls that show that half of Americans are opposed to Obamacare. Carney responded that public opinion will take care of itself once it’s forcefully imposed on everybody:
“I think that the fact of the matter is, millions of Americans are already receiving benefits because of the Affordable Care Act that they did not have prior to its passage. Millions more will receive benefits as it is implemented, including millions who will have access to affordable health care for the first time. And our focus is on making sure that happens, and implementing it. The public opinion polls are obviously subject in part to the sustained campaign by opponents of the bill to color perceptions of it. You know, the public opinion will take care of itself, if you will, because in the end, Americans out there want quality, affordable health care… We’re confident that when it is fully implemented, millions of Americans will have those benefits and will understand that the alternative would be to give up those benefits. And the picture that has been painted by opponents does not represent that truth.”
So, if the polls don’t match up with what politicians want to do, they’ll just say that the pollsters don’t ask the right questions the right way, or that the polls are skewed or can’t be trusted. After all, 78.4% of all statistics are made up on the spot. (Like that one.)
Many times, maybe most of the time, they’re right. The polls are being conducted with a certain outcome in mind. It is all about how the questions are asked. And there are other problems such as sample bias that skew the results or at least increase the margin of error.
In the case of an Obamacare poll taken a couple months ago, the question was simple:
“As you may know, a bill that makes major changes to the country's health care system became law in 2010. Based on what you have read or heard about that legislation, do you generally favor or generally oppose it?”
I think the question was a fair one. And as it turned out, 54% of respondents said they opposed it. Only 43% said they favored it. And it wasn’t like it was administered by the Heritage Foundation, which might have had a vested interest in seeing most Americans oppose Obamacare. It was administered by CNN and ORC International, who more than likely would like to see Obamacare succeed.
I’m not saying that liberals should oppose Obamacare because a majority of Americans oppose it. We shouldn’t be represented by finger-in-the-wind politicians who abide by the whims and fancies of the mob. We should be a nation of laws.
But Obama has postured himself as being the voice of the people and carrying out the will of the people. And when the will of the people is not the will of Obama, it has no effect on whether or not he will continue with his healthcare socialism goals. He just says, as his buddy Jay basically said, “Don’t worry, America. You may think that you don’t like Obamacare, but once we force it on everybody (except us, of course), you’ll learn to love it. It’s sort of an acquired taste.”