09/25/2013 05:29 pm ET Updated Sep 25, 2013

HUFFPOLLSTER: Views Shift On Government's Role In Health Care


Support for a government role in health care falls...all the way to 60 percent. Polls correctly picked the two winners in Boston. And we'd like to know what you think about AAPOR's deep dive report on public opinion. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, September 25, 2013.

SUPPORT FALLS FOR GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN HEALTH CARE - From the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research: “In 1938, 78% of Americans advocated the federal government take on responsibility for providing medical care for those unable to pay for it; in 2013 the number fell to 60%. Public opinion polls reveal that from the late 20th through the early 21st century the federal government’s role in providing health care services has been a salient and contentious issue. However, the divisions so starkly evident in 2013 did not always exist….Not surprisingly, Democrats historically have been the most supportive of providing health care to the needy. However, until recently substantial numbers of Republicans and Independents also favored this position. Between 1991 and 2013, support among Republicans and Independents fell by 31 and 20 percentage points, respectively.” [UConn]

AMERICANS THINK GOP MOSTLY HELPS THE RICH - Emily Swanson: “Most Americans think the Republican Party is more interested in helping the wealthy than the poor or the middle class, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. The new poll found that 51 percent of Americans think Republicans are most interested in helping the rich, while 28 percent said they're most interested in helping the middle class. Another 7 percent said the GOP is most interested in helping the poor….Americans overall were roughly evenly divided on what they think the Democratic Party is up to. Twenty-eight percent said the party works for the rich, 27 percent said the middle class, and 25 percent said the poor.” [HuffPost]

JON 'IGNORE THOSE POLLS' BERNSTEIN WEIGHS IN ON SHUTDOWN SURVEYS - Political scientist Jon Bernstein has some good advice on the many polls attempting to gauge support for a government shutdown over Obamacare and predict reactions to a shutdown should it occur: "Ignore those polls!...People aren't very good at predicting their own reactions to things, especially things they don't know much about and haven't thought much about...Here's a couple of rule-of-thumb type advice that I use on these sorts of things. Is the question one that respondents, especially those who are not political junkies, actually would have solid opinions about absent a pollster phone call? A high-profile election next week; sure. A budget deal, or a budget negotiations scenario? Far less likely. And then: does the question ask respondents for their current reactions to something, or to predict future reactions?" [PlainBlog]

WHEN POLITICIANS IGNORE PUBLIC OPINION - In their weekly columns, pollsters Mark Mellman (D) and David Hill (R) present two perspectives on politicians who appear to ignore public opinion in the context of the showdown over a government shutdown. Mellman reviews recent polls and concludes: "voters don’t want a government shutdown, they don’t want to defund ObamaCare and they want the GOP to move on instead of continually re-litigating this battle...Ignoring public opinion once again will be another blight on the Republican brand, but an even worse tragedy for our country." Hill notes the "fairy tale" that politicians "in both parties are guided by poll results...Polls are consistently showing that 'job creation and the economy' top every list of the most important issues or problems facing the states and the nation as a whole. Yet Republicans are dogging other rabbits.” [Mellman and Hill in The Hill]

Paging AAPOR? - The proper use of public opinion in the looming votes on the debt ceiling is part of a larger debate over its appropriate role in democracy, which is discussed in a 79-page report released by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) in September. The report, according to an introduction by AAPOR President Rob Santos, "presents a superb summary of the arguments made by both those who favor an expansive role of the public in the decision making process and those who favor a more limited role." The report includes a set of recommendations on how "AAPOR itself could provide direction or act as a clearinghouse for those who want and need summaries of where the American public stands on important issues," including the creation of "a central database or clearinghouse for public opinion data and analysis on specific topics," "meta-analyses or meta-reviews of data on public opinion on key policy areas" and forums "in which public opinion experts can discuss and communicate with the public about public opinion on key topics." The report recognized that a "continuum of possibilities" exists for AAPOR's response to their recommendations, and AAPOR itself is in the process of appointing an "implementation committee" to consider next steps. [AAPOR task force report, Santos' introduction]

What do you think? - We searched with Google News and found the release of the AAPOR report mentioned by just one news media outlet: HuffPost's newsletter on September 13. [HuffPost]

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the recommendations of AAPOR task force have been the subject of little open discussion. We'd like to pose a few questions to our readers: Have you read the AAPOR report yet (or at least its executive summary)? If not, why not? If you have, what do you think? Please feel free to respond via email us (at pollster@huffingtonpost.com) or by tweeting to @mysterypollster. Thank you!

BOSTON MAYORAL PRIMARY POLLING GETS TOP TWO CORRECT - CBS/AP: “State Rep. Martin Walsh and City Councilor John Connolly have secured the two spots in the November election to succeed Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who is retiring after 20 years in office. Unofficial returns from Tuesday’s preliminary election showed Walsh and Connolly leading 10 other candidates. Walsh had 18% and Connolly had 17%.” Despite concern among pollsters over the wide field of candidates, the last three surveys taken all showed Walsh and Connolly as the top two, although they put Connolly slightly ahead. [CBS Boston, HuffPollster ]

HUFFPOLLSTER VIA EMAIL! - You can receive this daily update every weekday via email! Just enter your email address in the box on the upper right corner of this page, and click "sign up." That's all there is to it (and you can unsubscribe anytime).

WEDNESDAY'S OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-R.I.P. Larry Hugick, chairman of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. [NJ.com]

-A wide majority of Americans think the government can do something to curb gun violence, but they disagree on the most effective fixes. [National Journal]

-A Bloomberg poll finds Americans souring on pretty much everything and everyone. [Bloomberg]

-Pew Research takes a close look at the 15 percent of U.S. adults who do not use the internet. [Pew Internet]

-Four out of five Americans see Iran as "unfriendly" or "an enemy" of the U.S. [Gallup]

-Americans see Putin as more effective than Obama on Syria. [YouGov]

-The special election to replace San Diego Mayor Bob Filner gets a clear front runner. [SurveyUSA]

-Harry Enten says PPP isn't going anywhere. [Guardian]

-Dave Wasserman maps the “target numbers” Terry McAuliffe needs to win in Virginia. [Google spreadsheet]

-Margie Omero (D) says lawmakers should follow the public’s lead on SNAP. [HuffPost]

-The Monkey Cage debuts on The Washington Post. [WaPost]

-The New York City Board of Elections counts write-in votes for mayor whether dead or alive, real or fictional. [@JoeLenski here, here and here]

-Most Texans don’t believe in man-made global warming. [Houston Chronicle]

-Kaiser Fung gripes about half-filled circles to illustrate "lean" votes in U.S. house whip count visualizations. [Junk Charts]

-Nathan Yau charts the most unisex first names in U.S. history. [Flowing Data]