Four polls came out taken on the eve of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Quinnipiac, Bloomberg, CBS, and CNN all produced similar but not quite the same numbers. How do we average them in a way that makes sense?
Analyzing polls for or against legislation in Washington will always have an element of guesswork because, unlike election polling, we have no final results to compare with our own projections. Let’s try anyway.
Quinnipiac showed 40% for the bill, 49% against, with an MoE of 2.5, which suggests a 96% probability that the majority is against the bill.
Bloomberg gave 38% for, 50% against, 3.1% MoE. 97% probability of majority opposition.
CBS found 37% for, 48% against, 3% MoE. 96% probability of majority opposition.
And finally, CNN showed 39% for, 59% against, 3% MoE. 99% probability of majority opposition.
I see no basis for averaging the raw numbers, as RealClearPolitics does, when the raw numbers have different Margins of Error and treatment of ‘leaners.’ However once we distill what the polls give into a final number, that single number allows us an apples-to-apples average. For now, I will give all the pollsters equal weight, but in time as I gather information on accuracy, this will change.
Thus I conclude that there’s a 97% chance, according to this range of polls from respected names across the spectrum of suspected political bias, that the majority of the American people oppose the bill the President signed this week.
I’m confident that number will change in the weeks ahead, because it’s almost surely going to be a campaign issue going into the Congressional elections in November. Both Republicans and Democrats will sell their views of the bill, and developments will sway opinion.
But for now, President Obama and the Democrats are starting with a handicap.