3/4 of Americans Back Choice of a Public Option
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:56:44 PM EDT
NBC News (.pdf) and The Wall Street Journal decided to drop the question from their August polling, so SurveyUSA went ahead and polled Americans on their sentiments towards a public option using the very question NBC and The Journal had previously used in June. The numbers are quite remarkable:
In any healthcare proposal, how important do you feel it is to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance--extremely important, quite important, not that important, or not at all important?
Extremely important: 58 percent (41 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Quite important: 19 percent (35 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Not that important: 7 percent (12 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Not at all important: 15 percent (8 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Total important: 77 percent (76 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Total unimportant: 22 percent (20 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
It's not clear why the pollsters behind the NBC/WSJ poll omitted this question this time around, but it certainly appears that public support for the option of a government-run plan has not at all diminished in the past two months despite the onslaught from the right and an unfavorable media climate.
Indeed, what's particularly interesting about the latest numbers from SurveyUSA is the breadth of the support for a public option as part of health insurance reform. Looking at the partisan breakdown of the question, even 71 percent of Republicans believe a public option to be important -- including a whopping 58 percent who believe it to be extremely important. Even two-thirds of conservatives in the country back a public option, per this polling.
So why, then, are some in Congress so skittish about giving the public a choice -- one that they seemingly want -- between private insurance and a program administered by the federal government?