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PPACA poll theory

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Managers of a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) consumer information service say small choices can have a big effect on the results of PPACA-related public opinion polls.

In a comment on a USA Today/Pew Research Center poll, the managers at talked about how complicated they think getting a clear, complete and accurate read on public opinion can be.

The organizations that organized the USA Today/Pew poll found that 42 percent of the consumers surveyed said they approve of PPACA and 53 percent said they disapprove of it.

The PPACA guide company commissioned a separate poll and found that 30 percent of the participants in its poll approve of the law, 32 percent disapprove, 10 percent are indifferent, and 27 percent are unsure.

The managers of the PPACA guide company say they think their results differed partly because they gave participants more response options.

Another challenge is knowing how well the demographics of the people who participate in a poll match the demographics of the general population, or whether there was any way for groups with a stake in the results to have supporters participate and skew the results.

Finally, the guide company managers say organizers of a survey can affect how the public sees the results by deciding whether to include or exclude participants who admit to knowing little or nothing about PPACA.

In the case of PPACA, about two-thirds of U.S. consumers know so little about the law that including their views about it in a survey report may be illogical, the guide company managers say.

A representative for the Pew Research Center said in a response to the guide company commentary that it is committed to transparency, does not take policy positions, and publishes full topline questionnaires — complete sets of questions and methodology descriptions — with each survey report. 

The center also publishes completes sets of survey results data, once it has completed analyzing the data, the representative said.

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