As data piles up that the the public option is good fiscal policy, and the public option still polls well above 60 percent nationally, Blue Dogs have a lot to mull over. Here's more: it's popular in their districts, and their reelection prospects without it are dimmed.
Health Care for America Now commissioned the poll in 91 swing districts.
The poll, by respected Dem pollster John Anzalone, finds that 54% of these swing district voters support the public option, and makes the case that these voters emphatically don’t want a “trigger,” the compromise of choice in some quarters:
The public option shouldn’t be considered in isolation. Including a public option is essential to implementing an individual mandate. Voters also already prefer the implementation of a public option, and do not see a need for a trigger. There’s over-whelming opposition to an individual mandate when the only choices are private insurance, but there’s net support for a mandate when people have the choice of a public option. And swing district voters are convinced private sector healthcare has failed to make health care affordable, and prefer the public option now rather than waiting on a trigger option.
These numbers aren't surprising, considering the Blue Dog district polling Research 2000 has done for Daily Kos. The new poll confirms what we already knew--majorities of voters, even in swing districts, aren't afraid of a government take-over of health care.
But what the Blue Dogs and Senate ConservaDems need to keep in mind is the other message the poll sends:
Swing District Dems will rise and fall with Obama. A failure on healthcare will likely hurt Obama’s approval ratings and in turn hurt Democrats in 2010, with swing district Democrats particularly susceptible given the competitiveness of their districts. Members need only revisit 1994 to gauge the electoral ramifications (52 lost seats) for the govern-ing party when the President pushes aggressively for healthcare reform but comes up short.
Imposing a mandate on the American people--in essence a low and middle class tax, cuz that's what it's going to feel like--to buy crappy insurance without the choice of a public option, will be a disaster for Congress and Obama. Anybody outside of the beltway who's paid any attention to the debate can see that. Those polled for HCAN understand the basics of competition, and they know it doesn't exist in the health insurance industry, and don't trust to exist outside the public option.
Despite opposition from many of their representatives, a majority of voters in these districts actually support an employer mandate for all but the smallest businesses, the public option, and raising taxes on households making more than three hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year to pay for reform. Majority support of these key elements of the President’s plan indicates members run a real risk of being out of step with their districts on proposals so integral to delivering healthcare reform.
Three-quarters of voters believe the status quo does not offer sufficient competition to keep premiums from rising. This is a large universe of voters in swing districts who accept that the private sector has failed to address the skyrocketing price of healthcare, and implicitly acknowledge the need for a government role in providing healthcare competition.
Let's hope the Blue Dog crowd is paying attention. They're more likely to heed the CBO scoring, but the added dose of real voter sentiment should provide a wake up call.