Yesterday, today, and I predict this coming Sunday, pundits will fight over the latest NBC poll that shows that the idea of a public health insurance option is in a dead heat. The hand-wringers from both sides will speak of an "evenly divided public" in regards to the public option. However the dead heat exists if you only consider the thoughts of 60% of the US population, which NBC apparently decided to do. When you look at the sample it turns out that only about 20% of the polls respondents where people of color. Currently approximately 40% of Americans are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
While there is a huge story here about how the insurance industry has spent millions to kill the idea of new cost-efficiency based competition and has not been able to gain ground in that effort, the media will see the NBC headline declaring a "plurality" of people against the public option and not read much further. Any poll watcher will tell you, considering the margin of error, that in fact the poll carries the same statistical results as the NBC poll that was taken 30 days and 60 million insurance industry dollars ago. The idea of a public option is resilient, and that is even when you over-sample the thoughts of 60% of the US population, which the NBC poll does.
While NBC touts its intellectual vigor and news credentials it has done a great disservice to its viewers and the entire country by portraying a poll as legitimate that undervalues the opinion of 40% of Americans. Political experts as well as marketing gurus would not base any rational opinion driven decision on a poll that is more reflective of the NBC punditry than the make up of the American people. The poll carries some importance in that it indicates that the targeted audience of Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks has not budged, but it is hardly the whole picture.
According to the Commonwealth Fund in the prosperous year of 2005 Hispanic and African Americans far outranked Anglos in the total pool of uninsured. All indications are that the disparity has widened.
So NBC went to a group that is the best insured in the country and even THEY are evenly split on the public option. I can't wait for NBC to ask the other 40% of America what they think. I would hope that the Administration and the Democratic party are anxious for a fuller picture as well.
Mario Solis-Marich can be heard on Am760 in Denver and at www.GotoMario.com Monday through Friday from 4 PM to 7 PM MT.