The headline on this morning’s Washington Post lead story, “Public Option Gains Support,” and the subhead, “CLEAR MAJORITY NOW BACKS PLAN,” would lead you to think that the answer to the above question is yes—and that the public has been moving in that direction. Like my Examiner colleagues Byron York and Chris Stirewalt, I think that’s misleading.
When you look at the actual question wording and numbers in the ABC/Post poll, you find that the percentage supporting and opposing “the proposed changes in the health care system by (Congress) and (the Obama administration)—no, I don’t know what the parentheses mean either—was 48%-48% in the ABC/Post’s mid-October poll, 46%-48% in its mid-September poll and 45%-50% in its mid-August poll.
In other words, there’s been no statistically significant change over the last two months. Similarly, Barack Obama’s job approval and disapprorval on health care was 48%-48% in mid-October and exactly the same in mid-September.
The other question is one that ABC and the Post have not asked before, whether respondents favor a bill providing government-sponsored health insurance for people who can’t get affordable private health insurance which doesn’t have Republican support or a bill without such a provision which does have Republican support. The responses: 51% favor the first option, 37% the second.
he surprise here is that about twice as many respondents who have confidence in Republicans in Congress would still prefer a Republican-supported bill to one with a private option. Since the question wasn’t asked before, we can’t get any sense of the trend of opinion.
The overall trend of opinion on the Democratic health care proposals is clear from this graph in pollster.com. If anything, support is falling; it certainly isn’t growing.