How Popular Is The Public Option?

by Patrick Appel

Only 37 percent of respondents could correctly identify what the public option is when given three choices. Nate Silver reacts:

This is mostly a debate being had among policy elites and the relatively small fraction of the public that is highly knowledgeable and engaged about health care reform; for most others, the details are lost on them. This is also why relatively small changes in wording can trigger dramatic shifts in support for the public option, which has been as high as 83 percent in some polls and as low as 35 percent in others depending on who is doing the polling and how they're asking the questions. You don't see those sorts of discrepancies when polling about, say, gay marriage or the death penalty, where the options are a little bit more self-evident.

You can find similar polls on issues like cap and trade. Mark Blumenthal has a slightly different perspective on public option polling.