Pollster Cassandras Warn Dems of Tragic Flaw

March 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm (By Amba)

Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen, “pollsters to the past two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, respectively,” issue a devastating warning to hubris-blinded Dems.  Their WaPo op-ed sums up the facts on the ground more succinctly and stingingly than anything else I have read.

Bluntly put, this is the political reality:

First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. […]

Nothing has been more disconcerting than to watch Democratic politicians and their media supporters deceive themselves into believing that the public favors the Democrats’ current health-care plan. Yes, most Americans believe, as we do, that real health-care reform is needed. And yes, certain proposals in the plan are supported by the public.

However, a solid majority of Americans opposes the massive health-reform plan [… and] believe the legislation will worsen their health care, cost them more personally and add significantly to the national deficit. Never in our experience as pollsters can we recall such self-deluding misconstruction of survey data. […]

The notion that once enactment is forced, the public will suddenly embrace health-care reform could not be further from the truth […]

Second, the country is moving away from big government, with distrust growing more generally toward the role of government in our lives. Scott Rasmussen asked last month whose decisions people feared more in health care: that of the federal government or of insurance companies. By 51 percent to 39 percent, respondents feared the decisions of federal government more. This is astounding given the generally negative perception of insurance companies.

CNN found last month that 56 percent of Americans believe that the government has become so powerful it constitutes an immediate threat to the freedom and rights of citizens. When only 21 percent of Americans say that Washington operates with the consent of the governed, as was also reported last month, we face an alarming crisis. […]

[T]he issue, in voters’ minds, has become less about health care than about the government and a political majority that will neither hear nor heed the will of the people.

This would be Greek tragedy if it weren’t such a farce.  You know what happens to those who don’t believe Cassandra.


  1. Maxwell said,

    Rasmussen surveys likely voters, who as we all know tilt strongly Republican this year. Which means their survey results are not representative of the entire nation. A truly honest Cassandra would acknowledge that.

  2. Peter Hoh said,

    Matt Yglasias wrote an interesting response here.

    Health care — reformed or not — will continue to cost all of us more and will continue to contribute a great deal to our national debt.

  3. Peter Hoh said,

    I wonder what results Rasmussen would get if they asked respondents if they’d like to get the government out of Medicare.

  4. amba12 said,

    It’s astonishing to me to hear someone (Matt Yglesias) say “the American welfare state” in tones of reverent admiration.

    That New Yorker article that you recommended by Atul Gawande (here it is) strikes me as a must read for everyone and an indicator of the only pathway to cutting health care costs. And it is not even a question of who pays.

  5. amba12 said,

    P.S. My sister the doctor said she and many of her colleagues at VCU thought that article was spot on.

  6. Maxwell said,

    Have you seen (or listened to) this history about how the Medicare cost structure got developed over time? I found it fascinating.

    Also, OT, you may enjoy this essay, linked to by Sullivan a few days ago.

  7. Donna B. said,

    Perhaps we need to look further back in history to see where “a profit motive” might have come from for physicians. Who founded Blue Cross/Blue Shield? What trade made substantial gains in earnings and status shortly thereafter, becoming a “profession”?

  8. Peter Hoh said,

    From Will Saletan:

    “Democracy isn’t about doing what might sell in the next election. It’s about doing what you promised in the last one.”

    “Elections were supposed to be a means to good legislation. Instead, legislation has become a means to election. The polling mentality has turned democracy upside down.”


  9. Peter Hoh said,

    Having gained seats in each of the last two congressional elections, it is quite likely that the Democrats will lose seats this coming election, no matter what happens with health care or the economy.

    The Democrats’ gains in the last two elections did not come from traditionally safe Democrat districts. They came from districts which had been electing Republicans. Dissatisfaction with the GOP — much of it over the war — led to Democrat gains. Those conditions have changed. Therefore, it should come as no shock that voters in those districts are going to be more receptive to GOP candidates this year.

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