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September 14, 2009


I wonder if there's some way to measure the inpact of the President' speech on polarization. The speech strenthened my opposition to health reform, because it attacked me and others with whom I agree and insulted us. He called us liars, etc. OTOH these attacks may have also strengthened the positive feelings of health reform supporters. So, my guess is that electorate may now be measurably more polarized.

I wonder if there's some way to measure the inpact of the President' speech on polarization.

I'd think that the measure would be the change between those who strongly approve/disapprove of his health care plan relative to those who somewhat approve/disapprove.

If the president's speech reinforced the polarization, you'd expect increases in the "strong" numbers on both sides. The poll Brendan cites has those numbers; strong approval went up ~5% (from 27 to 32) apparently at the expense of those who "somewhat approved" (from 19 to 15).

OTOH strong disapproval dropped 4 points (from 42 to 38) while those who "somewhat" disapproved rose from 8 to 10.

If you take those numbers at face value and attribute the difference to his speech, he managed to increase strong support for his plan, dampen opposition to his plan, but few people crossed from one side to the other.

Jinchi, that's a good point. However, after reflection, the polarization I was thinking of more concerns respect (or lack thereof) for the other party.

Obama's speech attacked Republicans. He said they opposed health reform because they're bad people. Of course, there's always a certain amount of that sort of thing in politics, but Obama seems to use more of it than Bush or Clinton did.

Then Obama's attacks engender corresponding negative feelings among those of us who he is attacking, as was shown by Congressman Wilson's rude interruption.

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