Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Analyzing Polling Data on Policy Positions


 This post analyzes data on the opinions of  199 Democrats and 79 Republicans on five policy issues  -fixing the affordable care act, creating a single pay health insurance system, breaking up big tech,  creating a wealth tax, and implementing the green new deal.   The post analyzes some simple descriptive statistics but does not conduct formal hypothesis tests.  The limitations of on-line polls and the potential political implications of the results are discussed.  

Question:    Data on five policy positions was obtained from an online polls of 199 Democrats and 79 Republicans.   What are the limitations of on-line polling?   What does this data say about the views of people in the sample and of the typical member of the Democrat party.


Policy Positions of 199 Democrats
Fixing ACA
Single
 Payer
Break Up Tech
Wealth
Tax
Green
 New
Deal
Undecided
82
21
45
23
25
Opposed
45
21
21
6
28
Support
72
157
133
170
146
Total
199
199
199
199
199
Fixing ACA
Single Payer
Break Up Tech
Wealth
 Tax
Green New Deal
Undecided
41.2
10.6
22.6
11.5
12.6
Opposed
22.6
10.9
10.5
3.0
14.1
Support
36.2
78.9
66.8
85.4
73.4
Total
100
100
100
100
100


Policy Positions of 79 Republicans
Fixing ACA
Single Payer
Break Up Tech
Wealth
 Tax
Green
 New
Deal
Undecided
14
2
9
2
2
Opposed
52
74
65
75
77
Support
13
3
5
2
0
Total
79
79
79
79
79
Fixing ACA
Single Payer
Break Up Tech
Wealth Tax
Green New Deal
Undecided
17.7
2.5
11.4
2.5
2.5
Opposed
65.8
93.7%
82.3
94.9
97.5
Support
16.4
3.8
6.3
2.5
0
Total
100.
100
100.
100
100



Limitations of on-line polling:   On-line polls seldom if ever measure a population that is representative of the targeted population.   There are two reasons why on-line poling results differ from general population polling results.    The first is that the sample represents people who are most likely to find the poll on the Internet.   The second is people who take the time to respond to on-line polls tend to have strong opinions, which often differ from the main stream.

The fact that these samples are not representative of their respective populations does not make them useless.   The samples do measure opinions of active opinionated voters who may have more influence than the typical voter. 

Discussion of Results for Democrat Voter Sample:   

·      This sample of Democrats is ambivalent about the ACA.   Only 36 percent support fixing the ACA, the signature policy achievement of President Obama.   By contrast, nearly 79 percent of respondents supported a single pay health plan.  Note that over 40 percent of Democrats are undecided about the ACA.

·      The most popular of the five Democratic initiatives is Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax, a proposal supported by 85 percent of the respondents to the poll.

·      The undecided proportion near 23 percent is substantially higher for the break-up big tech proposal than any of the other proposals.

Discussion of Results for Republican Sample:

·      No Republicans in the sample voiced support for the green new deal.

·      Republican support for the wealth tax was less than 3 percent.

·      Republican support for single payer less than 4 percent.

·      Over 10 percent of Republicans were undecided about breaking up big tech.

·      The proposal to fix the ACA got more support from Republicans than any other proposal.  (16.46 percent of Republicans in the sample support fixing the ACA.)


Political Remarks: 


Sanders and Warren have enthusiastically supported Medicare for all   No centrist Democrat candidate has put forward and repeatedly advocated for  a comprehensive plan designed to improve the ACA in the way that Sanders and Warren have argued for a single payer plan.   The lack of a detailed list of improvements to the ACA backed up by enthusiastic advocacy may be the reason why polls find little support for fixing the ACA.   Go here for a discussion of several improvements of the ACA, which a centrist could sell to the voters.


Overview of Health Issues


Centrists have not adequately critiqued Senator Warren’s proposal to break up big tech.  My view is that breaking up big tech would actually be anticompetitive and harmful to consumers for several reasons.   First, Amazon offers an alternative to firms like Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Target, firms with much large market share in many markets.   Second, Amazon and Google offer venues for small firms and start-up firms that compete with more established companies.   Third,  Apple and Netflix create competition with cable firms and allow people to cut the cord, which leads to  major monthly savings.    Go here for a discussion of Senator Warren’s Tech break up proposal.



I am not surprised that a substantial number of Republicans support or are undecided about the break up big tech proposal.   While the proposal involves an intense government intervention in the private sector it also protects the financial interests of many shareholders and executives in established firms competing with the new tech giants.

Senator Warren makes a strong case that people with wealth do not pay their fair share of taxes.  My view is that a financial transactions tax and a tax on some luxury goods like jet fuel for private planes would prove less burdensome to economic growth than a general wealth tax.

Senator Warren is the one candidate in the race who is offering a lot of interesting  policy proposals.   Centrists are AWOL from the policy discussions in the Democratic party.   There is a real chance the party will nominate a progressive and walk away from a lot of votes in the center.   This strategy could result in another electoral college defeat.  


  








  

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