Today's Obamacare Poll Weirdness

| Tue Jul. 23, 2013 2:02 PM EDT

Here's yet more poll weirdness. This is from a National Journal poll about Obamacare:

Given the choice to either repeal the law, wait and see how it takes effect, or add money to aid its implementation, only 36 percent of adults picked outright repeal....And when told that an independent Congressional Budget Office study had determined that repealing Obamacare would actually increase the deficit....42 percent said “Congress should repeal the program to expand coverage because the government can’t afford it at a time of large budget deficits.”

Is this a typo? As written, it suggests that 36 percent of American want to repeal Obamacare, but when they learn that this would increase the deficit, the number goes up to 42 percent. That can't be right, can it? What am I missing here?

UPDATE: Alex Roarty, who wrote the National Journal article, emails with the following clarifications:

There are two main points that, I think, explain the discrepancy. First, the question that yielded the 36 percent repeal figure gave respondents three possible answers (along with letting them say they were unsure). The question that gave the 42 percent figure allowed only one of two responses (along with the unsure response).

So it's safe to assume the extra possible answer siphoned some of the people in favor of outright repeal -- some of the 30 percent who elected to "wait-and-see to make changes" would likely pick immediate repeal if only given a choice between that and retaining the law ad infinitum.

Second — and I think this gets more to the heart of your question — yes, people were told that the independent Congressional Budget Office had determined that repealing Obamacare would increase the deficit. They were also told that "Republicans want to repeal the health care law partly because they say it will cost too much, especially as more people begin to receive benefits." So, basically, people could choose to believe the CBO was wrong.

Pitting a partisan talking point versus a independent report obviously tips the scale (usually these types of questions set up a Republican vs. Democrat message). But I should probably have noted that respondents were also told the GOP version of things, which obviously influences the responses.

So there you have it.

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