NBC and the Wall Street Journal are out with a new poll on health care, in which more respondents say they think President Obama's health reform plan is a "bad idea": 42 percent of respondents say they think it's a bad idea, vs. 36 percent who say it's a good idea and 17 percent who have no opinion. NBC reports the poll as reflecting skepticism about Obama's health care reform push, and it's fair to say that the "bad idea" numbers are a bad sign for the White House's messaging effort. But, at the same time, more respondents see a need for big reform than don't: a combined 50 percent say the health care system needs either "a complete overhaul" (21 percent) or "major reform" (39 percent), compared to 31 percent who prefer "minor reform" and 7 percent who want no change at all.
It's worth noting that the reform push began, and in some respects continues, as a pitch for reform, period--Obama wanted to sell the need for reform, while letting Congress handle the specifics. So, from the White House's perspective, "bad idea" numbers are bad, but it's got a 50 to 38 edge on the broader picture. Now that the discussion is focusing more on the detail of a public option vs. a co-op plan, we'll see how the complexities of public opinion play out.