Thursday, October 1, 2009

Survey questions can be questionable

The CBS/New York Times released the results of a RDD phone survey of 1,042 adult Americans on 9/24/09. Among the items heavily reported in the "liberal media" was the "fact" that nearly two-thirds of the public support a "public option" in the health care reforms being currently considered by Congress. But look at the actual wording of the question:

"q57 Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan -- something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get -- that would compete with private health insurance plans?"

Isn't it very likely that the specific mention of Medicare would have boosted the percentage of people in support of such a plan? Despite its many problems, Medicare is well regarded among the American people. It's a good brand. Including it in the question undoubtedly inflated the support of the survey's results.

Little noted were the results of another question in the same survey: "q38 Do you think you understand the health care reforms under consideration in Congress, or are they confusing to you?" 59 percent said they were confused. Should we put a lot of faith in the support of the "public option"?

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