Is Support Sagging Because the Public Option Was Dropped?

A new poll shows support for health care flagging. Why, and what should Democrats do about it?

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A ruckus-raising NBC/Wall Street Journal poll not only shows President Obama's approval ratings sagging below 50% for the first time. It also reveals a sharp decline in support for health care reform. Only 32% of respondents now think the Democratic health care plan is a good idea, while 47% think it's a bad one. Forty-four percent now think it is better to keep the current system, with only 41% favoring the reform proposal currently on the table. Is this a sign that jettisoning the public option has made health care reform unpalatable to liberals, as Howard Dean believes, or does it indicate a souring on reform in general? Most analysts believe that fleeing liberals are the cause of the drop, but right-leaning bloggers argue it suggests a broader disillusionment.

  • Time to Pass this Sucker Firedoglake's David Dayen says this poll shows precisely "why the White House wants to get this bill passed quickly." The numbers aren't surprising: "The public option has outpolled the overall health care bill for a number of months. With the plug pulled on it, of course the overall bill would suffer."
  • Delusional Democrats "It's past time," says blogger Desmoinesdem at My Direct Democracy, "for beltway Democrats to stop deluding themselves about the benefits of passing something, anything on health care reform."
  • White House Out of Touch The Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham lays it out simply: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday that he didn't think "any rational person would say killing a bill is better at this point." Yet, according to the new poll, a plurality of respondents actually prefers the status quo to the reform proposal. Ergo, concludes Ham, Gibbs is calling the American public irrational.
  • No, This Really Is All About the Public Option MSNBC's Chuck Todd and left-leaning Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, agree that "internals show [the drop in support] is mainly from liberals disappointed in the the decision to drop the Public Option."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.