Rove obscures Wash. Post/ABC News poll question on public option to suggest "the wording of the question" skewed results


On Fox News' Hannity, Karl Rove suggested that a Washington Post/ABC News poll that showed broad support for a public option was skewed because "the wording of the question" didn't make clear that the public option would include government involvement. In fact, the Washington Post/ABC News poll question asked about support for "having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans," and its results mirrored those of other recent public opinion polls that asked about support for a government-administrated public option.

Rove falsely suggested the poll didn't specify that "new health insurance plan" would involve the government

From the October 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

ROVE: Well, real quick. Look, I think you made a good point about the ABC/Washington Post poll. It was Friday and Sat -- it included Friday night and Saturday night polling, which is more Democrat in leaning. It was adults, non-voters. Party ID is very volatile in polling, and you need to control for it.

But one of the other things is asking the question. In the Washington Post/ABC poll, they got 57 percent of the people who said that they agreed with the proposition that we ought to have a new health insurance plan to compete with private insurance. Fifty-seven percent of the people agreed with that. Gallup, out in the field at roughly the same time, said, do you believe in a public, government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurance. That got 50 percent. So, sometimes the wording of the question is important.

During the segment, Rove displayed a whiteboard on which he had written that the Washington Post/ABC poll asked about a "new health insurance plan to compete ... ":

Rove poll screen grab

In fact, the poll asked about "having the government create a new health insurance plan"

Wash. Post/ABC poll: "Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans?" From the Washington Post/ABC News poll, conducted October 15-18:

Washington Post poll question

Other recent polls specifically noting plan would be "government administered" also found widespread support

CNN/Opinion Research: 61 percent favor creating public option "administered by the federal government." When respondents were asked in an October 16-18 CNN/Opinion Research poll whether they "favor or oppose creating a public health insurance option administered by the federal government that would compete with plans offered by private health insurance companies," 61 percent said they favored the plan.

CBS News: 62 percent favor government offering "a government administered health insurance plan." When respondents were asked in an October 5-8 CBS News poll whether they would "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," 62 percent said they would support the plan.

Still in denial about popularity of public option, conservative media won't accept polling results

Media conservatives baselessly declare poll finding majority support for public option "fraudulent," "rigged." Numerous conservative media figures have attacked the Washington Post/ABC News poll, with Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich reportedly claiming that "this poll was deliberately rigged and produced a result that's fundamentally false" and that "[i]t's a typical Washington Post effort to slant the world in favor of liberal Democrats" and Rush Limbaugh calling the poll "totally fraudulent." However, the Washington Post/ABC News poll results on the public option are in line with several other polls. Additionally, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson suggested that the poll should have referred to a "government-run option," and Fox News' Steve Doocy suggested the poll should have instead asked about the "government taking over the health care situation in this nation" -- terms similar to the preferred language Republican pollster Frank Luntz has identified for the use of opponents of the public option and health care reform.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Fox News Channel
Karl Rove
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