In the Washington Post (10/25/09), reporter Dan Balz has a piece about the “resurrection” of the public option in the Senate negotiations over healthcare reform. But like the Post‘s trumpeting of its recent poll on the issue, Balz’s rationale doesn’t make much sense. As he sees it, Senate Democrats “reevaluated the politics of the public option” in part because support was on the rise:
Then last week, new polls, one from the Washington Post and ABC News and the other from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, found clear majority support (57 percent) for a public option. The Post/ABC News poll showed support had risen five percentage points since August. The new numbers emboldened public-option supporters to press harder, even though the same polls continued to show the public divided over the overall shape of healthcare legislation.
As we pointed out already, the Post‘s numbers weren’t all that revelatory; the public option was popular before (with as much as 62 percent support in a June 18-21 Post/ABC poll) and continues to be popular. As for the Kaiser numbers Balz singles out, that poll did find 57 percent support this month; however, the month before (9/11-18/09), Kaiser found the public option supported by 59 percent.
Figuring out why the press is pushing this “public option comeback” storyline is difficult to fathom, but it’s undeniable that it is being sold with misleading citations of public opinion.