Opinion Research Corporation for CNN. 12/17-19. 1,000 American adults. MoE 3%.
As you may know, a bill that makes major changes to the country's health care system became law earlier this year. Based on what you have read or heard about that legislation, do you generally favor or generally oppose it?
(IF OPPOSE) Do you oppose that legislation because you think its approach toward health care is too liberal, or because you think it is not liberal enough?
Favor (from previous question): 43%
Oppose, too liberal: 37%
Oppose, not liberal enough: 13%
It takes about three seconds to look at these numbers and realize that the failure to secure a public option was President Obama's single biggest political mistake of the health care reform fight. Given the power of the health insurance lobby, getting a robust public option was probably never a serious possibility, but something like Medicare buy-in for people 55 and up was doable, and if Obama had been able to shepherd it through Congress, it almost certainly would have won over much of the liberal opposition to reform.
An important thing to keep in mind here is that most liberal opponents of health care reform aren't Democrats whose votes can be taken for granted. Most of them are actually independents. According to the poll, 17 percent of independents oppose reform because it is not liberal enough. That compares with 9 percent of Democrats.
In all, one-quarter of opposition to health care reform comes from people who believe it's not liberal enough, including about twice as many independents as Democrats who wish it were more liberal. If you happen to be one of those who believes that independents decide elections, that's a number you can't ignore.