A Quibble with Josh's Quibble

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My friend Josh Tucker graciously linked up to my post on public opinion on health care on The Monkey Cage.  He did suggest that my bottom line that opinion is not all that more favorable to reform (and may be less favorable) than 1994 might "underestimate the importance of Obama having a reservoir of public support behind him."

But I guess I forgot to mention (but the NY Times did too) that Obama's approval rating on health care is 44% and his disapproval rating is 34%.  Not terrible numbers, but not a reservoir.  The NYT/CBS report does not give comparable numbers for Bill Clinton in 1993-1994.  But my guess is that they were in the same neighborhood when his reform effort was getting underway.

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OK, good point. The relevant number probably is the support for healthcare reform as a whole, and not necessarily the support for a public option. However, since it looks like the Republicans are making the public plan their line in the sand, then it may come down to the number of Senators Obama can convince to go for the public plan. In that case, pointing towards the public support for a public option could be helpful. Or, to use the double-negative logic in my original post, it would probably be a lot harder to convince the hold outs to support the public option without being able to point to such a large degree of public support for the option.

Of course, at the end of the day, the really relevant number is either 50 or 60, which is the number of votes this going to take to pass. And not sure if anyone knows exactly how an extra X% of public support translates into votes in the Senate...

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