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The public option imitates 'The Office'


Speaking of Blanche Lincoln and Arkansas, a new poll shows that 39 percent of voters support the public option and 48 percent oppose the idea. On the one hand, that could mean that Arkansas opposes the public option. On the other hand, well, I'll let Tim Fernholz explain:

The state is split because no one is offering any real leadership on the issue -- all of the Arkansas Democrats, who are mentioned in this profile, have been publicly waffling about health-care reform for months, and dropping lines like Lincoln's factually incorrect comments on the public option. Of course the public is unconvinced that this is a good alternative -- no one is explaining to them what health-care reform means. If Lincoln were to actually take a stand, she could move public opinion.

Arkansas is a conservative state and the public option is a polarized policy, so it's not crazy to believe that the state will break against the policy no matter what Democrats say. But it's also hard to imagine that the public option has much of a chance when Democrats like Mike Ross and Blanche Lincoln are casting the policy as a liberal agenda item they can't support, rather than a way to bring those awful, awful insurance companies to heel.

Voters don't know much about politics and they know even less about policy, and so many of them outsource this thinking to politicians they already trust. The problem is, politicians occasionally outsource this thinking to a prediction of what swing voters will want. Thus, the politician is against the policy because he or she thinks a certain portion of the electorate is against it and a certain portion of the electorate is against the policy because they think the politician is against it. This dynamic is making for a good “Office” plot line as both Andy and Erin thinks the other one doesn't want a date, but it's not a good way to make laws.

Photo credit: By Justin Lubin/NBC

By Ezra Klein  |  November 17, 2009; 6:40 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Next: When policies get repealed


What I said before: Lincoln can't take a stand because she doesn't know what deals her corporate backers may make with the White House. Her job is just to get in line and support whatever they decide.

Posted by: bmull | November 17, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

a new poll shows that 39 percent of voters support the public option and 48 percent oppose the idea.

and Ezra goes on to try to blindly find an answer to this. Maybe its just that the citizens of Arkansas doesn't trust a government to run anything right. Kind of like this government:

WOW. The stimulus is SO GOOD it can create entire congressional districts. That's amazing. I wonder why Ezra hasn't posted about it. And even worse it seems as if the Obama administration was complicit in this because they adjusted their figures DOWN because of this. If they KNEW there were problems with the numbers why not wait until the numbers were accurate before they were posted on the site?

Oh and this is the same government that can't get the swine flu vaccine out in about a year's time?

And you wonder why she doesn't want a "government run plan". The question is, Why do you?

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 17, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

This has been number 17,412,453 in our continuing series, "Liberals Explain Why the Ignorant Public Would Support Their Policies if Only the Public Weren't So Blasted Ignorant."

Posted by: ostap666 | November 18, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I think the support for the public option dropping has more to do with the fact that the democrats have been intentionally vague about what the public option would actually do. Some people thought it meant basically medicare for anyone who wants it. SOme people thought it meant a subsidized insurance plan (above the exchange subsidies) in order to keep premiums down. Once people find out the details of what its actually going to look like I don't know why you are surprised that the support would drop.

Posted by: spotatl | November 18, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

A much better example of this phenomenon is gay marriage. Democrats are constantly surprised when gay marriage loses ballot initiatives in places like Maine and California, but all nationally prominent politicians (including Obama) come out against it.

Posted by: futility | November 18, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

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