NY Times/CBS poll: Obama losing support on health care because opponents have shaped the message

UPDATE: Hadn’t seen this earlier, but today Nate Silver wrote a post titled “Obama, Democrats Flunking Health Care Sales Pitch.” He’s right and has some constructive ideas for strategy.
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This is why we worry about messaging (or lack thereof) on health care:

President Obama’s ability to shape the debate on health care appears to be eroding as opponents aggressively portray the effort as a government-takeover that could limit Americans’ ability to chose their doctor and course of treatment, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Americans are concerned that overhauling the health care system would reduce the quality of their care, increase their out-of-pocket health costs and tax bills and limit their options in choosing doctors, treatment and tests, the poll found. The percentage who describe health care costs as a serious threat to the American economy — a central argument being made by Mr. Obama — has dropped over the past month.

The Obama campaign ran a brilliant campaign. They figured out effective messaging and stuck to their messages. For some reason, they seem to have lost that touch now that they’re in power. It’s almost like they view themselves as above the rough-and-tumble of politics now. Well, the GOPers are always in campaign mode. And, they’ve got one mission: To destroy Obama’s presidency.

Now, the numbers aren’t all bad:

Still, Mr. Obama remains the dominant figure in the debate, both because he continues to enjoy relatively high levels of public support even after seeing his approval ratings fall off somewhat, and because there appears to be such a strong desire to get something done: 49 percent said they supported fundamental changes and another 33 percent said the health care system needed to be completely rebuilt.

The poll found 66 percent of respondents were concerned that they might eventually lose their insurance if the government does not create a new health care system, and 80 percent said they were concerned the percentage of Americans without health care would continue to increase unless Congress acts.

By a margin of 55 percent to 26 percent, respondents said that Mr. Obama had better ideas about how to change health care than Republicans in Congress.

Republican haven’t brought Obama down to their level, but they’ll keep working on it. Thanks to the Blue Dogs,the GOPers and their allies in the insurance industry have all of August to undermine and hammer away at real health insurance reform. Nothing like a few ugly insurance industry-funded t.v. ads to get members of Congress cowering.

This poll, among others, should be a real wake up call. What the brain trust at the White House has been doing isn’t working.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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