A fascinating 2 pager from the kaiser Family Foundation looks at opinion polls in three swing states, Iowa, Ohio and Minesotta. There are some really amazing things in here:
A poll conducted October 8-11, 2004 by Market Shares Corp. for the Chicago Tribune among likely voters in key Midwest swing states found that health care ranked first as an issue of concern to voters in Iowa and Wisconsin, and ranked second behind job losses and unemployment in Ohio. Three weeks earlier, a series of polls conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research for Knight Ridder and MSNBC found that health care ranked lower as a voting issue in these same states, behind terrorism and the economy (and in some cases behind other issues such as Iraq and jobs as well).
What was the difference? Well one difference was the 3 weeks between the two polls, but the main diffference was that one question asked “Which one of these are you most concerned about?” while the other asked “Which one of the following issues will be most important in determining your vote for President”. The latter found terrorism and Iraq most important. You’d think that should help Bush as he apparently does better in the polls in those two issues, and those are the ones people say will affect their vote (in an apparent rush of altruism — Bush is better for the country but I’ll be worse off!?”).
But by now pretty much everyone knows where they stand on those issues. The people who don’t are the “undecideds” or the “movable voters” who will of course be a big part of deciding who wins. ABC did a nationl poll of undecideds:
Turning to swing voters rather than swing states, another recent finding that sheds some light on the role that health care may play as a voting issue comes from a national poll conducted October 7-10 by ABC News. This poll defined “moveable voters” as those likely voters who either said they were undecided in their vote choice, or there was a chance they might change their mind (15% of all likely voters in the poll). When given a list and asked which would be the single most important issue in their vote for president, 24% of movable voters chose health care, compared with 9% of voters who had made up their minds, indicating that health care might play a larger role in vote choice among swing voters than in the population in general.
Now you have to do some methodological fudging, but assuming that the undecideds in the swing states are like the undecideds nationally, they will be voting about health care because they can’t get to an answer about the other stuff.
For the life of me, especilly given the unpopularity of the Medicare bill, I cannot understand why Kerry isn’t running wall-to-wall ads about health care in all the swing states.