Monday, March 22, 2010

Questions 3: Public Opinion and the 2010 Cycle

hwickline asks:
David Gregory held up public opinion on the stimulus yesterday to point out that the Democrats' expectation that heath care reform gets more popular over time might not be true, at least in the short term. That the stimulus is almost universally praised by economists and only unpopular because of massive demagoguery by the Republicans abetted by his colleagues seemed lost on Gregory, but this is MTP we're talking about, so what can you do?

What do you think? Are the situations analogous? What happens with public opinion over the next few months? And for that matter, is the stimulus a net positive come November?
Well, the first thing I'd say is that if you're interested in public opinion, you can't say "if only they didn't spin it," since we can be sure that both sides will try to spin health care reform, just as they tried to spin the stimulus.

I don't know what will happen to public opinion on health care reform over the next few months.  I can say that it will probably be affected by public opinion about Barack Obama, which in turn will be affected most strongly not by what people think about health care reform or the stimulus in the abstract, but by how the economy is doing, although there are other factors.  If the economists have it right that the stimulus was a significant help to the economy, then it's a plus for the Dems in November, regardless of what the public believes about it.

For more, see Seth Masket (bottom paragraph, not when he quotes me!), John Sides, Sides again, and Joshua Tucker.  Oh, and Brendon Nyhan is relevant here, too.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the response, Jonathan, and the links. Clear, concise and well-argued, as always.

    And I hear you on the stimulus, as well. It's always nice when good policy makes for good politics.


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