NBC News/The Wall Street Journal is set to release a poll this evening in which support for the public option continues to grow. The poll will reveal a reversal on the issue. Last month most people were opposed to the public option by a 48%-46% margin, but this month the measure is supported, 48%-42%.
According to the preview on MSNBC’s First Read, “48% say they favor a public health plan administered by the federal government that would compete with private insurers, compared with 42% who oppose it. That’s a shift from last month, though within the margin of error, when 48% opposed the public option and 46% supported it. And it’s a 10-point swing from August, when 47% were in opposition and 43% were in favor.”
When the poll asked if it was important to give people a choice through a public option a combined 72% said that it was extremely important or quite important. Only 23% said that it was not that important or not important at all. The NBC public option poll has been heavily criticized by supporters of the reform for the way they worded the questions about the public option.
Healthcare for America Now! criticized NBC for changing the wording of the public option question over the summer. NBC changed the poll question by removing the word choice, which Chuck Todd contends is a biased term. This month MSNBC asked the public option question both ways and the result was a support for the public option in each question.
The NBC poll had been skewing more anti-public option than other polls, so it is a big deal that it is reflecting a ten point swing in favor of the public over the past two months. The polls have swung because Democrats took control of the issue. President Obama’s speech in front of the joint session of Congress did help, but also progressives have mounted a major campaign in support of the public option.
The opposition got off to a fast start in August, but they ran out of gas, and were repeating themselves by mid-September. Scare tactics are only politically effective in the short term. The longer the national debate lingered on, the more likely it became that the Democrats would take control. Republicans have not offered anything of substance on the issue, so it was only a matter of time until people started seeing through the fear mongering.