I tell my daughters, the little jesters, that asking for something nicely is much more likely to land them what they want than belligerently demanding it. It's not "I'm hungry, get me a snack," it's "Dad, could I have a snack, please?"
Jay Cost explains this principle in relation to polling on the "choice" of a "public option" creating "competition" in health care.
The pollsters are using plenty of "feel-good phraseology." ABC News/WaPo presents the idea that the government insurance plan would "compete" with private insurance plans. This is a contested notion, as Republicans think that the public option will drive private insurance away.
Marist uses the phrase "public option," which has become the conventional term for this insurance reform - but is nevertheless an intentionally constructed phrase designed to garner maximum public support. "Government-run health care" is foreboding, but "public option" is inviting.
CNN uses the phrases "public health insurance option" and "compete."
CBS News/NY Times specifically relates the public option to Medicare, a program that is so popular that Democrats are now thinking about reframing their pitch for the public option as merely an extension of Medicare to all. I wonder if they got that idea from CBS News/NY Times!
Which makes sense. After all, the Democratic phrasing chosen to sell the public option was poll/marketing tested in the first place. So repeating that phrasing in the question of course gives responses in favor. It did before, as well. Scott Rasmussen is not beholden to looking at things through traditional liberal media goggles, and so starts to dissect out the actual opinions by asking the "what ifs" necessary.
Let's take a look at Rasmussen. He has offered a series of really interesting questions on health care. First, he gives a basic version of the question that ABC News/WaPo, CBS News/NY Times, Marist, and CNN asked:Would you favor or oppose the creation of a government-sponsored non-profit health insurance option that people could choose instead of a private health insurance plan?
That gets strong approval, as per usual when people hear words like "choose," "compete," and "option."
Then Rasmussen asks this follow up:Suppose that the creation of a government-sponsored non-profit health insurance option encouraged companies to drop private health insurance coverage for their workers. Workers would then be covered by the government option. Would you favor or oppose the creation of a government-sponsored non-profit health insurance option if it encouraged companies to drop private health insurance coverage for their workers?
What happens when this Republican argument is substituted for the Democratic argument? Support for the public option plummets dramatically. Nearly 3/5ths of all respondents voiced opposition to the public option when it was phrased in this way.
So in political polling it depends greatly on how you ask ... as well as who you ask. By the way, if you want to know why the "public option" isn't really a "choice" that will "compete" fairly with private insurers, have a look at Doctor Zero's basic course in economics over at Hot Air.