Showing posts with label health care reform. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health care reform. Show all posts

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Have Things Really Gotten This Bad for Democrats?

[Click to Enlarge]

Are liberals serious about this? FHQ is sure some are -- there are only 35 votes on that poll -- but c'mon. I don't understand the purism on the extreme end of both parties. If you want to get something -- anything -- done, you have to have members of your party in power (And yes, that means members of the same party with differing viewpoints.). Undercutting this president or any other is simply political fratricide. All or nothing is no way to approach American politics. It never has been, and in a supermajoritarian body like the Senate, it never will be.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

40 Passes, 39 Used: What's Wrong with This Again?

Why exactly is it wrong from the perspective of the majority party in Congress to have members of Congress defect on a high salience vote? Does this make any sense? From the current Republican perspective, yeah, it does make sense. The party of Lincoln is in the minority and needs every one of its members to stand their ground against anything the Democrats want to pass through the chamber and hope that at least 41 Democrats see it their way. To the credit of the Republican leadership in both chambers of Congress, they have been able to do this very well in 2009.

What I don't understand, though, is why some Democrats are complaining about the 39 strays on the health care vote (HR 3962) on Saturday night. So what? Very plainly, the majority party in the House controls the agenda. The leadership from that party is never going to bring anything to the floor that would lose; not on purpose anyway. Let's assume that's a given in the case of the health care bill that came to the floor over the weekend. The other given here is that the Democratic coalition (or cartel if we want to put this in the agenda-setting terms of Cox and McCubbins, 2005) has forty votes to spare. As the majority, you have a choice between 1) watering the bill down even further to get all your members on board or 2) strategically distributing those 40 votes (FHQ will call them passes from now own.) to electorally vulnerable members.

Knowing that it had the votes, the Democratic leadership allocated its passes to freshmen, those in Republican leaning districts or a combination of the two. Could the leadership have run up the score?* Sure, but it likely would have cost them. They'd either have to water the bill down now or likely watch as Democrats in close or Republican-leaning districts lose in 2010. As I see it, that's not a winning strategy. If you've got -- as a majority party -- some votes to spare, you have some wiggle room and an opportunity to provide some cover for at most 40 of your more electorally vulnerable members. On a high salience issue like health care reform, why not use those passes?

Well, Pelosi, Hoyer and the others among the Democratic leadership did. But they didn't use them all (by design, some have speculated -- FHQ agrees). They only used 39 (and actually ended up having two to spare because of Joseph Cao's late defection from the right side of the aisle). So sure, Democrats can be upset that they lost 39 votes, or they could be happy that the leadership didn't have to use their full allotment of passes and gave cover to some of their members at the same time.

What's wrong with that?

*Winning 218-217 is the same as winning 258-177: the bill passes. A wider margin would not have affected anything in the Senate. It would have been/will be close in the upper chamber regardless.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

"You Lie!"

Typically, FHQ tries to steer clear of this sort of thing (...unless it happens in the context of a campaign.*). Having been born and bred in the South, we also have an aversion to actors taking on southern drawls (They are usually missing some element of authenticity.). But on a Friday, after a long week, this one is too good to pass up.

Hat Tip to the folks at CQ's Politics (Un)seriously for the link.

*Of course, I have been making the argument to my intro classes this week that House members are constantly in the midst of a permanent campaign. In keeping with that, I should probably include a link to the Public Policy Polling survey that shows Wilson behind 2008 challenger, Rob Miller, in a hypothetical 2010 match up.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Tale of the Tape: Health Care Polling

NOTE: FHQ doesn't typically wander into the area of policy polling, but I'm in the midst of a unit on sampling and survey research in my summer course political science research class and I'm looking for examples for illustrative purposes. At the moment, the contradictory findings from NY Times/CBS and Resurgent Republic offers the perfect example.

Depending on who you're listening to, the Obama adminstration's efforts to push meaningful (perhaps, "meaningful" as that is certainly in the eye of the beholder) health care reform through Congress is either going swimmingly or is a complete non-starter. [Actually, the sense I get from my view up in the nosebleed section -- definitely not on the sidelines -- is that the obstacles appear more daunting now than they did prior to health care officially being placed on the agenda.] You will find no better example of this than in the divide between the latest New York Times/CBS News and Resurgent Republic* polls (both pdfs) released in the last few days on the matter. Now, these aren't identical polls, but there are a few questions that offer a glimpse into the true contrast here. First, let's focus on question wording on the overlapping questions before we look at the underlying demographics of each poll's sample. For example:

On higher taxes and health care funding...

Would you be willing or not willing to pay higher taxes so that all Americans have
health insurance they can't lose, no matter what?

57% Willing, 37% Not willing

Would you prefer a health care reform plan that raises taxes in order to provide health insurance to all Americans, or a plan that does not provide health insurance to all Americans but keeps taxes at current levels?

RAISE TAXES/HEALTH CARE FOR ALL.....................39%
DON'T KNOW...................................................................10%

On the federal government versus private health care... (And no, these questions do not necessarily offer an apples to apples comparison.)

Do you think the government would do a better or worse job than private insurance
companies in providing medical coverage?

50% Better, 34% Worse

Which would you prefer: (ROTATE: a system where most Americans get their health care coverage through the federal government, or a system where most Americans get their health care coverage through a private insurance company)?

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.............................................31%
PRIVATE INSURANCE....................................................60%
DON'T KNOW.....................................................................9%

Now, the first set of questions provides us with a much better direct comparison than the second set, but the nearly diametrically opposed numbers from each poll is eye-catching, to say the least. Question wording in each case, of course, may have a lot to do with this, but let's look at the partisan breakdown just for the heck of it. It wasn't all that long ago -- over this past weekend in fact -- that Nate Silver cautioned that these NYT polls typically trend Democratic in terms of sampling (He further adds that the ten point spread isn't all that extraordinary in the grand polling scheme recently.). And it also may not surprise you that a polling outfit called Resurgent Republic would have a more Republican-leaning sample. But let's have a look under the hood, shall we?

Samples (by party ID)...
GOP: 24%
DEM: 38%
IND: 31%
DK: 8%
GOP: 32%
DEM: 38%
IND: 26%
DK: 3%
The dispute isn't over the Democrats, where both polls have an equivalent proportion, but among the percentage of Republicans and Independents included. How does this stack up against the national poll average over the last six months (via Pollster)?
That NYT/CBS sample appears to be closer to the current D-R polling gap than the Resurgent Republic sample.** But does that mean health care reform is a done deal? Well, we'll have more polls over the next few weeks and months to tell us whether it is or isn't.

...not to mention some action or inaction on Capitol Hill.

*Incidentally, here is the scoop on Resurgent Republican for those interested.
**It should be pointed out that RR had 1000 cases while NYT had a sample size of 895.

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