As Senate preps for debate, support for public option remains strong

At FDL, Jon Walker examined the numbers from the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll on health care. The public option is still popular, despite unrelenting attacks:

The parts of the health care reform championed by the “political left” and opposed by so-called “centrists” in Congress continue to have very high popular support: the public option and the employer mandate.

53% of Americans support having the “government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans,” while only 43% oppose it. The opposition is much weaker than this one question would indicate. 40% of people who said they opposed the public option would support it if it were restricted almost exactly like it is in the House bill, to “only people who do not receive insurance through an employer, or through the existing Medicare or Medicaid programs.”

The health insurance industry/Republican attack message against the public option does seem to be gaining a lot of traction. A strong majority (60%) do think the public option “would force many private health insurers to go out of business.” However, even with that belief, support for the public option still remains strong. It just might be that Americans don’t really care if many inefficient private health insurance companies go out of business because they can’t compete against a public option.

So, what’s perceived as “the left” by many members of Congress (including too many Democrats) is actually the predominate view in America.

Lowell at Blue Virginia also noted a key finding from this poll:

people who say they understand health reform support it by a 13-point margin, while those who admit they don’t understand it also don’t support it, by a 19-point margin. Very striking.

Very striking. And, that may explain why so many members of Congress voted against the health care bill in the House. They really didn’t understand it — or want to understand it.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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