[Posted by Karl]
It is understandable that after weeks and weeks of bad news, the left would be looking for good news, but is this the best the HuffPo can do?
Blocking a public health insurance option is a relatively low priority for conservative Blue Dog Democrats, according to an ongoing survey of its members. The fading House opposition could clear the way for the public option to move through the chamber.
But then, just a few grafs later:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was the catalyst for the Blue Dog self-reflection when she floated the idea that roughly 20 Blue Dogs could support a public option.
“There was some suggestion that there were 20,” Herseth Sandlin said. “There clearly are not. From the numbers that I have seen, although not everyone has submitted the surveys, even if they had and they all said yes it wouldn’t be 20. Right now it’s less than a dozen.”
Fewer than 12 Blue Dogs is momentum? Sorry, that’s not even Joementum. Indeed, the fact that the Blue Dogs and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are whipping their members in opposite directions belies the happy talk preceding today’s Democratic caucus sitdown. Blue Dogs are still openly complaining that Pelosi & Co. are endangering the House majority in 2010 by trying to ram through bills unpopular in the 84 districts held by Democrats but won by McCain in 2008 or Bush in 2004. The government-run insurer demanded by House liberals remains an unlikely prospect in the Senate. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) still refuses to commit to back his party on a cloture vote. And so on.
Those confident that ObamaCare will pass are people like Megan McCardle (who is almost as confident Democrats will lose the House) and Nate Silver (who then goes on to list five serious obstacles to passage; his co-blogger Andrew Gelman also warns that the Dems could lose the House). Yet we are supposed to believe that it is the GOP committing suicide on the issue. Mickey Kaus is far less confident, as is Tom Daschle (who, for all of his faults, knows a bit about the healthcare issue and his former colleagues in Congress).
The happy talk seems to have stemmed from the fact that the polling on the issue has momentarily stabilized at a near-draw. However, as Jay Cost explains, a draw implies that some Democrats would have to take a very unpopular vote to pass ObamaCare.
The New York Times has a hard time sugar-coating the results of its new poll. And they cannot bear to tell their readers that even their traditional, skewed sample has more people thinking that the reforms on the table will hurt them personally, cost more, worsen their quality of care, and make it harder to see a doctor than think the opposite. Instead, the NYT spin here is that there is still a lot of confusion and ignorance about ObamaCare. Too bad for them that when the specifics get spotlighted, the Democrats end up folding.
Update: Kaus notes another biased NYT poll question, while noting that the NYT poll is engineered to produce useless results.
Update x2: Another, more subtle bias, for those interested in the art of polling. Question 20 of the NYT poll asks — as the NYT has done since 1991:
Which of the following three statements comes closest to expressing your overall view of the health care system in the United States: 1. On the whole, the health care system works pretty well and only minor changes are necessary to make it work better. 2. There are some good things in our health care system, but fundamental changes are needed. 3. Our health care system has so much wrong with it that we need to completely rebuild it.
The percentage for “minor change” is about as high as it has ever been, and the percentage for “completely rebuild” is about as low as it has ever been. But the percent in the middle is always between 50-60%. It’s the nature of the structure of the question that is going to draw people to the middle. This could be seen in almost every poll done about leaving Iraq — shall we leave tomorrow, never, or on the timetable that coincidentally is being pushed by Democrats? Here, the NYT considers “fundamental changes” to be the “moderate” position, and constructs the poll question to push its position as a scientific expression of public opinion.