Poll truther was the derisive term used to describe those on the right who willfully disregarded (or reinterpreted to fit a hoped for result) the polls as the 2012 presidential election drew near. It really was fun for us lefties to heckle and jeer as the truthers on the right twisted themselves into pretzels trying to find justifications for how Obama was going to lose and Romney was on his way to a landslide victory despite what the polls were showing. I contended that poll trutherism was simply the latest iteration of the tendency of conservatives to disregard the facts and figures they did not agree with, while wholly creating their own, wrongheaded, reality.
Now I find myself an admitted poll truther. When it comes to the chronically low numbers of approval for the ACA, I flat out do not believe the polls. Ok… go ahead. Point and laugh while I twist myself into a pretzel trying to demonstrate why the approval of Obamacare is a huge media conspiracy against truth, justice and the American way of life!
First: The only reason Republicans hate Obamacare is because it is Obamacare. If it were Bushcare or Reagancare they would love it. The fundamental mechanism of Obamacare, the individual mandate, was proposed by conservatives in response to the Clinton health care reform drive in the early 90’s. Obamacare was invented by the Heritage foundation as the free market health care solution.
The individual mandate in particular positively reeks of conservatism. It mandates personal responsibility to allow for a private market solution to the nation’s health care needs. Conservatives decrying the individual mandate as some sort of attack on freedom and government takeover of healthcare should have found that religion when the Heritage foundation and party leaders like McCain, Dole, Gingrich and Romney were pushing the idea.
It seems you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Republican presidential nominee who supported Obamacare before it was Obamacare. In 1993 Bob Dole co-sponsored Obamacare (then known as Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993, or HEART ) and went on to be the Republican presidential nominee in 1996. John McCain touted the Republican plan in opposition to the Clinton plan in the early 90’s. The first time the head of the Florida Hospital and Health Care Association heard of the concept of the individual mandate was from John McCain in a speech he gave in Miami at the time. Obamacare was first passed into law by the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
Republicans are fundamentally unable to approve of anything President Obama does, even when it is their own idea. Nearly all of the opposition to Obamacare from the right is simply blind opposition to Obama by the same people who proposed the idea in the first place.
Next: The numbers showing opposition to Obamacare include a significant amount of people who oppose the law for not going far enough. For example consider CNN’s recent poll finding that 54% of the nation oppose Obamacare while 43% approve. 16% of those opposed felt the law was not liberal enough. Only 35% of respondents opposed Obamacare because they thought the law was too liberal. 65% of respondents approve of the law, are undecided, or think Obamacare does not go far enough.
The 16% who express dissatisfaction because the law is not strong enough are counted by pollsters as though they support the rhetoric and positions of the 35% who just reflexively dislike anything the president stands for. That is the opposite of the truth. The 35% would really detest the solution supported by the 16%, not just out of reflexive hatred for a personality, but because the liberal solution really would be one of the most objectionable things conservatives supposedly hate about Obamacare: A big government takeover of the health care system.
Truth be told, I would probably be in the 16% if I were polled under the influence of truth serum. The individual mandate is a conservative solution, and conservative ideas are not in the best interests of the nation as a rule. The truly liberal solution is a single payer system. That would constitute an actual government takeover of the health care system, just like the government controls the police departments and fire departments. Bare bones necessities such as the defense of the nation and our basic health and welfare needs are the proper function of government.
Under the single payer system folks who wanted to go out of network to pay for their own healthcare would not be prohibited from doing so. Just like you may hire a private security firm to guard your property but you still pay taxes for the local police department.
So I don’t believe the polls reflecting widespread opposition to Obamacare. Most of that opposition is not against the policy but against the president, and a significant part of the opposition is because the law does not go far enough. BUT… I do count my lucky stars that I’m not discounting the polls a few weeks before a general election to settle the issue!