by Max Brantley
Comes word of some polling last night. I hope the robopoll drew from a good sample and I hope the results will be released.
* MIKE BEEBE: Pro or con.
* MEDICAID: For or against expansion.
* PRIORITIES: Would you prefer a legislator who puts social issues at the top of the agenda or jobs, education and health care?
* ABORTION: Regulated enough? Legal without restriction? Illegal, period?
* GUNS: Regulated enough? Need more regulations? Fewer regulations?
* GAY RIGHTS: Gay marriage? Same sex union? Nothing?
Here's the thing. National poll after national poll tells you the answers to these questions. The American public is more concerned about their economic well-being and health care than abortion and gun laws. The majority of Americans favor continued legal abortion, with restrictions, but no more restrictions than we now have. The same for guns. If anything, the majority would favor some more sensible regulation aimed at greater safety. Gay rights has moved solidly into the approval column for civil unions and is approaching that level for marriage.
The Arkansas legislature? If you take it as a scientific sample of public opinion in the state, Arkansas cares more about guns and restricting women's medical rights than health care, education or jobs. It wants even more restriction on women's medical choices. It wants looser gun laws — guns everywhere, in fact. The legislature hasn't gotten around to hating on gay people yet, but be patient. I don't believe this is a representative sample of Arkansas opinion. Not that it matters given who's in charge of making the laws.
I'd still like to see the poll results, bad or good.
UPDATE: Talk Business, in partnership with Hendrix College, has been doing polling, though the questions, while similar, are somewhat different than the ones I heard last night. Talk Business has begun sharing results from its work:
* ABORTION: Respondents said they favored Jason Rapert's bill to ban abortions in most cases beginning at 12 weeks 60-33. But, it's important to note that the question is phrased to favor Rapert's formulation that it is a "fetal heartbeat" bill that prevents an abortion if a heartbeat can be detected. Respondents aren't told that meant, in its original form, a prohibition at five weeks or at 12 weeks in its current form. Would that make a difference? I tend to think so, but who knows. The question I heard about last night didn't favor Republican messaging in question formulation. Finally: Poll or no poll, this bill is unconstitutional. There hasn't been a national poll yet that favors overturn of Roe v. Wade, the opinion that makes this bill unconstitutional by banning many abortions before fetal viability. Too bad the question wasn't posed about pre-viability bans.
* MEDICAID EXPANSION: Favored by respondents 53.5 to 40 percent. Here, I'd bet Republicans would take exception with question formulation, including the mention of federal payment of most of the cost; the benefits to people "above the poverty level" and help for 250,000 Arkansans. All true, but all elements of the case being made for the legislation with none of the downsides being offered about big bureaucracy, waste, the deficit and so on.
SPEAKING OF OBAMACARE: Ezra Klein looks at the growing lineup of Republican governors favoring Medicaid expansion, if not state operation of the health exchanges to be established under federal law.
Why embrace one part of the health care law — a single-payer system that will stretch President Obama’s law to cover millions more Americans — while ditching the other more market-oriented aspect? It likely has to do with the big consequences for a governor who chooses not to expand Medicaid—versus the tiny reward with setting up a very complex insurance marketplace.
There’s not a lot riding on governors’ decision to build a health insurance exchange. The marketplaces certainly are important to the Affordable Care Act: They’re the online portals where millions of Americans will ultimately purchase health insurance, the key vehicle for delivering the health law’s insurance expansion.
Building a health exchange is a huge undertaking. Between connecting disparate government computer systems and creating a seamless shopping experience, industry analysts say that this process should take two or three years.
If governors cram it into 10 months, and the final product comes out subpar, they would likely take the blame. But if a governor doesn’t go through with building one, the federal government swoops in. It has promised that every state will have an insurance exchange by Oct. 1, the date that the new markets will open for enrollment.
Republicans prevented Arkansas from running its own exchange so the Beebe administration is hoping to establish a hybrid partnership. Republicans here don't like that either.