Monday, January 25, 2010

A continuation of the messaging

Nate Silver and the awesome team over at have a couple of really great posts up about health care reform and its role in the Massachusetts Senate race last week. Here are the two big take-aways I got from those posts, in order:

1. Massachusetts voters do support health care reform; they just don't like how it's actually happening in terms of legislative process, and like most of the country they...

2. Don't actually know what the proposed legislation does.

So, here we are. The democrats are in a nasty spot on a substantial legislative platform because they did not find a way to explain what it actually is. What didn't work to convince the public was a speech by the President, a set of confusing and contradictory statements from Pelosi, Reid, and Obama, and no planned communication strategy to combat falsehoods spread by special interests.

Silver says it pretty well:'s much harder to read the opinion polls as a "mandate" against the health care bill when much of that opinion is based on demonstrably false beliefs, some of which have been perpetuated deliberately by opponents. And it's much harder to know how the Democrats ever expect to pass a health care bill or similarly complicated policies like cap-and-trade if they wither in the face of polls that reflect less a disparity of opinion and more a poverty of accurate information.
I don't know if it's too late to launch a comprehensive communications platform for this or not. But if it isn't, party leadership might want to focus on that for a while to make this issue less toxic for the senators and representatives running this November.

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