Today, I came across a poll of likely Texas voters, conducted by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune that said that for Texans, health care is a distant third in importance, behind border security and immigration. This was in contrast with frequent news reports in the last week that an unnamed “recent poll” had found that health care is the number one issue in the 2018 election for voters. That first, UT/TT, poll was more consistent with other recent news coverage and the issues that I keep seeing pop up on Twitter and Facebook.
So I did some research….
It turns out that the first poll (“KFF,” download pdf file,with results) was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, California. In fact, approximately 30% of the respondents listed health care as their number one issue and were designated “Health Care Voters” by pollsters. 70%, designated “non-Health Care Voters,” chose other issues, including the economy and jobs (21%).
The demographics of those polled were heavily slanted toward Democrats, with registered Democrats and “Independents” who are identified as “Independent Lean Democrat” adding up to 68% of the “Healthcare Voters.” “Non-Health Care Voters” came in at 49% Republican or “Independent Leans Republican.”
While KFF is considered one of the “Least Biased” polling bodies, they are still subject to sampling errors. It appears that this might be one of those times.
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They also found that the majority of Texas voters would support restrictions on abortion that are greater than those we have today.
The University of Texas and the Texas Tribune have published the results of a poll that included questions about voters’ opinions on abortion. The poll of registered voters in Texas, recruited by an organization called “YouPoll.”
Q37. What is your opinion on the availability of abortion?
1. By law, abortion should never be permitted. 16%
2. The law should permit abortion only in case of
rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger. 30
3. The law should permit abortion for reasons other than rape, incest, or danger to the woman’s life, but only after the need for the abortion has been clearly established. 13
4. By law, a woman should always be able to obtain
an abortion as a matter of personal choice. 36
5. Don’t know 5
Q38. Do you think that laws restricting abortion here in Texas should be made more strict, less strict, or left as they are now?
1. More strict 38%
2. Less strict 26
3. Left as they are now 21
4. Don’t know/no opinion 14
By answering “3. The law should permit abortion for reasons other than rape, incest, or danger to the woman’s life, but only after the need for the abortion has been clearly established,” the respondents would actually support laws that are much more restrictive than current law. However, it’s being reported as though current law requires a need to be established, and to match the answers in Q38.
2/3 of those polled support for a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, whether or not the abortion causes pain to the fetus. The poll asked half of those polled one question and half another, with very similar results:
C. [SPLIT SAMPLE a AND b]
a. Prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks based on the argument that a fetus can feel pain at that point.
- Strongly support 49%
- Somewhat support 13
- Somewhat oppose 8
- Strongly oppose 19
- Don’t know 11
b. Prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks.
1. Strongly support 47%
2. Somewhat support 15
3. Somewhat oppose 8
4. Strongly oppose 22
5. Don’t know 9
Rather than reflecting people’s knowledge that 20 weeks – or 5 months – is very close to our current viability of 22-23 weeks, I believe that the responses reflect our conflicted and complicated feelings about abortion in general.
WingRight reported on the harassment of Mark Regnerus, a University of Texas at Austin Professor of Sociology, for his study on the differences in the adult children of homosexual parents. Dr. Regnerus was subjected to an investigation by the University, which confiscated his computer and emails.
The University has exonerated the Professor, and released this statement on September 12, 2012:
“The University of Texas at Austin has determined that no formal investigation is warranted into the allegations of scientific misconduct lodged against associate professor Mark Regnerus regarding his July article in the journal Social Science Research,” the school said in a statement. “As with much university research, Regnerus’ New Family Structures Study touches on a controversial and highly personal issue that is currently being debated by society at large.”The university expects the scholarly community will continue to evaluate and report on the findings of the Regnerus article and supports such discussion,” the statement concluded.
And anyone who supports his views is at risk, too.
In June, WingRight.org reported on the publication of Mark Regnerus‘ article, “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” in Social Science Research. The adults reported more problems when compared to adult children of “intact biological families.” The early complaints from critics were that the data didn’t distinguish between types of homosexual relationships in the same way that it did among heterosexual families. The adult subjects were designated as having Lesbian Mothers (LM) or gay fathers (GF), without breaking out smaller groups by how long or stable the relationships of the parents were. This was a weakness in the study that was recognized by the author.
Legitimate criticism was rare. One article, here, by Walter Olson under “Gay Voices” at least looks at the data itself, although dismissing much of it and declaring the author’s own bias. Critics repeatedly point to a very few small studies of carefully chosen – often self-selected -upper-middle class LM families that are written by very biased authors, who openly advocate for same-sex marriage and parenting. Somehow, they believe that bias in favor is not significant, but any data or mention that there might be negative consequences from alternative families – or documentation of positive outcomes from intact biological families – is immediately dismissed as bigoted and discriminatory.
However, instead of focusing on the problems described and noting that adult children of divorced and step families also fared poorly compared to IBFs, the conversation in the media and on line quickly became attacks on Dr. Regnerus, the source of the funding, the Witherspoon Institute, and the connections between the leaders of the Institute and the National Organization for Marriage.
An article in “The New Civil Rights Movement,” an online site devoted to “gay rights and issues and marriage equality,” very literally attacks not only Dr. Regnerus, Witherspoon and NOM, but also tears apart the motives and history of a man who came forward to tell his story after the Regnerus piece was published. The author, gay rights activist Scott Rosensweig who writes under the name Scott Rose, is most certainly biased. His piece is loaded with emotional rants, using words such as the repeated use of “gay-bashing”personal attacks on the author of the Witherspoon essay.
And now, the heat is on the University of Texas to somehow censor or censure Dr. Regnerus. Due to a “formal” complaint by Rosensweig, author of the article above, UT is conducting an inquiry to determine whether to fully investigate Dr. Regnerus and his methods. Rosensweig’s letter evidently charged that “Your employee, Professor Mark Regnerus, is shaming and disgracing your institution by violating your university’s academic honor code,” he wrote. “If you take no stand against Regnerus’ coordinated political anti-gay hate campaign then you are leaving your institution’s reputation in a garbage-bin of iniquity.”
I’m forwarding my own essay to the University and suggest that those of you with an interest in the issue, or who pay taxes in Texas, send them your own polite informative notes. President Bill Power’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.