WaPo: Most Americans want the public option?

The headline is like a splash of cold water for people who think the public option might be dead and for those campaigning against government insurance. From the WaPo:

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that support for a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and wins clear majority support from the public.

But breaking down the poll and reading through the graphs it’s not no certain. Although you have to dig into the story.

Independents and senior citizens, two groups crucial to the debate, have warmed to the idea of a public option, and are particularly supportive if it would be administered by the states and limited to those without access to affordable private coverage.

In other words, they are in favor of a government program if its just for the poor. Americans are an amazingly compassionate people. It is understandable that they would say a government program insuring the poor is a good idea. But that doesn’t mean they want one for themselves.

Overall, 45 percent of Americans favor the broad outlines of the proposals now moving in Congress, while 48 percent are opposed, about the same division that existed in August, at the height of angry town hall meetings over health-care reform. Seven in 10 Democrats back the plan, while almost nine in 10 Republicans oppose it. Independents divide 52 percent against, 42 percent in favor of the legislation.

There are also deep splits in the new poll over whether the proposed changes would go too far or not far enough in expanding coverage and controlling costs. Twice as many see the plan as leaning toward too much government involvement, but since last month there has been a nine-point increase in the number who say government should be more involved.

In other words … not much has changed except the qualifying words in the poll questions themselves. Still I have a hard time reconciling these two graphs.

On the issue that has been perhaps the most pronounced flash point in the national debate, 57 percent of all Americans now favor a public insurance option, while 40 percent oppose it. Support has risen since mid-August, when a bare majority, 52 percent, said they favored it. (In a June Post-ABC poll, support was 62 percent.)

If a public plan were run by the states and available only to those who lack affordable private options, support for it jumps to 76 percent. Under those circumstances, even a majority of Republicans, 56 percent, would be in favor of it, about double their level of support without such a limitation.

Fifty-six percent of those polled back a provision mandating that all Americans buy insurance, either through their employers or on their own or through Medicare or Medicaid. That number rises to 71 percent if the government were to provide subsidies for many lower-income Americans to help them buy coverage. With those qualifiers, a majority of Republicans say they support the mandate.

Republicans are OK with a mandate. I am not sure I understand that given the Constitutional questions which I can assure you will be challeneged.

But the timing of the poll is suspicious … given Rasmussen poll yesterday:

Now that the Senate Finance Committee has passed its version of health care reform, 42% of voters nationwide favor the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That’s down two points from a week ago and down four from the week before.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 54% are opposed to the plan.

The numbers have been remarkably stable throughout the debate. With the exception of bounces following presidential television appearances, support for the plan has stayed in a very narrow range from 41% to 46%. Currently, 24% Strongly Favor the legislative effort and 42% are Strongly Opposed.

Any thoughts. I will have more this morning.

2 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    I bet the WaPo still thinks most people get their news from newspapers too!


    I can see Rasmussen's questions.  Apparently, I cannot see WaPo's, so the poll is invalid to me.   Considering the amount of manipulation and science that goes into polling, one can practically get any result they want.   I only see support of a public option among the dullest of liberals.

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