Saturday, August 2, 2014

Headlines say Obamacare is unpopular, polls tell a different tale

Majority find the law went far enough or should have gone farther in overhauling health care system

There’s a big problem with media today: the average consumers of news tend to only read the headline of an article, and, thinking they understand the complete picture, ignore the nuts and bolts of what’s the real story.

Several examples of this can be found, but recently I stumbled upon an article describing the Affordable Care Act’s unpopularity, simply titled, “Obamacare Is More Unpopular Than Ever, Poll Shows.”

Other headlines are similarly down on the health law, but this one piqued my interest as I read on. It wasn’t until the bottom of the article that the reader realizes that while a majority of Americans find something disapproving of the law, they don’t want it repealed outright: they simply want it fixed.

The poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, finds that 60 percent of Americans want Congress to “work to improve the law.” Only 35 percent want Congress to repeal the law outright. Even a third of Republicans, the largest political group to oppose the law, merely want it tweaked a little rather than replaced.

Tell this to an ordinary person who consumes the news in ordinary ways (e.g. glancing over headlines alone), and it may surprise them. Tell them that disapproval only tips the scales due to liberal disappointment, and it may surprise them even more.

A recent CNN poll demonstrates just that (PDF). That poll, conducted in the middle of July of this year, shows that while 59 percent of the public opposes the law, only 38 percent do so because they think it’s too liberal. Another 17 percent think it’s not liberal enough, while 40 percent think it’s just fine the way it is.

Taking a look at it in those terms and it’s clear that a plurality of Americans are happy with the law. Another perspective finds that a majority think Obamacare is just liberal enough or could stand to go even further left.

These findings are rarely mentioned in the headlines of today’s top stories. Indeed, the “too liberal/not liberal enough” part of that poll isn’t even talked about until paragraph seven of this small blog post on the CNN site.

Is it any wonder that people think that Obamacare is such a disappointment? Our media continually portrays it as such, and people subsequently form an opinion based off of that portrayal. In truth, only a small segment of America thinks the law is so terrible that it deserves repeal. A supermajority, on the other hand, favors the law, or, sensing some problems with it, want those alone addressed and the law itself left in place.

That’s the real headline on the law, and it deserves to be said out loud as often as possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment