Beltway smartguy Nate Silver has posted a chart of results from the latest Kaiser Health tracking poll (PDF).
Nate uses this chart to argue that the lack of support for HCR is due to people not knowing how great it really is.
What we see is that most individual components of the bill are popular — in some cases, quite popular. But awareness lags behind. Only 61 percent are aware that the bill bans denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Only 42 percent know that it bans lifetime coverage limits. Only 58 percent are aware that it set up insurance exchanges. Just 44 percent know that it closes the Medicare donut hole — and so on and so forth.
Nate says that the Dems should pass HCR, teabaggers be damned, because once passed, the program’s benefits will become apparent.
Obviously, it’s not as though this is going to do much to help the bill’s popularity in the immediate term. But in the long term, once people actually see the go bill into effect, their perceptions are liable to improve, in ways that might help the Democratic party. Although there are a few things like the individual mandate which the public obviously does not like, most of the other components of the bill are things they are liable to be quite pleased with and to find quite reasonable.
Now, everybody knows Nate’s a smart guy, so one would think he would apply his vaunted statistical sense to make the obvious case that HCR stands a far better chance of being a popular program if the individual mandate is jettisoned.
After all, under Nate’s logic, if the individual mandate is already at minus 40% net favorability (62% against: 22% for), just wait until the bill passes and everyone not only knows about it, but is forced, under pain of IRS audit, to buy overpriced, underperforming, for-profit health insurance.
But Nate won’t go that far. Instead of advising Dems to fold on the mandate, he’d rather them take a blind gamble that the popularity of the benefits of HCR will outweigh the unpopularity of the individual mandate – and thus essentially repeat a strategy that has already contributed to the loss of Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat to a teabagger.
Truly, the establishment Dems’ studied denial of the individual mandate’s political liabilities, even by its most respected analysts, borders on the absurd.
(x-post @ Big O)