Monday, September 14, 2009

Measures of Controversy

In 2009, health-care reform remains far more controversial and and unpopular than initiating military operations in Iraq was in 2002. Here are some sample Gallup numbers from the run-up to the vote on and the vote itself on the Iraq War Resolution. (The numbers are approve/disapprove/not sure.)
Would you favor or oppose invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power?

2002 Nov 8-10

59

35

6

2002 Oct 21-22

54

40

6

2002 Oct 14-17

56

37

7

2002 Oct 3-6

53

40

7

2002 Sep 20-22

57

38

5

2002 Sep 13-16

57

39

4

2002 Sep 5-8

58

36

6

2002 Sep 2-4

58

36

6


On the whole, that's about a twenty-point spread in favor of going into Iraq.

Current Gallup numbers on health-care reform? 37% in favor. That's about twenty approval points lower. By the standards of the 2002 Iraq debate, the current health-care reform "package" (even when there isn't really a comprehensive single plan, yet) is wildly controversial without a tremendous base of public support.

These numbers also show that the current Democrat-backed vision of health-care reform falls far short of the level of support for Medicare in the 1965 (as Mickey Kaus points out, Gallup found 63% in favor of Medicare back then). Granted, popularity is not the best metric for judging whether a given policy would be effective or not, but these numbers reveal one aspect of the public-debate dynamic on this issue.

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