The Senate is nearing its final vote on health reform this week, and CNN reports that Americans are warming up to the upper chamber's health care bill a bit, though it's still unpopular on the whole. Americans now oppose the Senate bill 56% to 42%, according to a survey taken December 16-20; earlier this month, in a poll taken December 2-3, respondents opposed it 61% to 36%.
In the time between those two polls, a lot has changed: the working conception of the bill went from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's opt-out public option plan to a compromised jettison of the public option in favor of a Medicare buy-in clause, to a bill with no semblance of a public option whatsoever.
Americans have generally been more supportive of the public option than of the legislative packages under consideration in Congress, so it seems odd that the Senate bill would get more popular as public-option-like provisions got dropped. Here's one speculation: the public warmed up the Senate bill just a little bit because it's probably about to pass, and it no longer signifies a frustrating legislative morass, but an actual policy change.
Still, the House bill got a much better public reception shortly after it passed than the Senate bill is getting now: CNN showed that the public only opposed it 49% to 46% the week after it passed.
Given that the public dislikes the Senate bill--which, right now, looks
like the only feasible framework for health reform--and that Americans
probably won't be getting what they said they wanted in poll after poll
throughout the health care debate--namely, a public option--it could
be a challenge for Democrats to sell this bill to the American people
once it's over and done with. But the debate over health care has worn on, and it wouldn't be too surprising to see a sigh of relief get expressed in poll results, with health care receiving a bump as it nears and achieves legislative completion.