A new Research 2000 poll conducted for Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America shows that the American people still overwhelming favor a public option. The poll was conducted in 10 swing districts currently held by Democrats.

QUESTION: Would you favor or oppose the national government offering everyone the choice of a government administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private health insurance plans?
OVERALL 68% 21% 11%
DEMOCRATS 82% 9% 9%
REPUBLICANS 51% 38% 11%
INDEPENDENTS 71% 13% 16%
CO-04 (Markey) 68% 20% 12%
FL-24 (Kosmas) 64% 21% 15%
MI-07 (Schauer) 69% 19% 12%
NC-08 (Kissell) 73% 16% 11%
NM-01 (Heinrich) 71% 17% 12%
NM-02 (Teague) 67% 19% 14%
OH-01 (Driehaus) 66% 26% 8%
OH-15 (Kilroy) 69% 22% 9%
OH-16 (Boccieri) 66% 23% 11%
VA-05 (Perriello) 67% 19% 14%

Even in swing districts, the majority of self-identified Republicans favor a public option. Like poll after poll, the numbers prove that the public option makes health care reform more popular, not less. The idea of a public option is incredibly popular with a broad cross-section of people, yet Democrats refuse to add it to health care reform as part of a reconciliation sidecar strategy. Instead of paying for fixing the incredibly unpopular excise tax with the savings from a very popular public option, Democratic leaders are planning on more tax increases, and cuts to Medicare Advantage. This is such a politically stupid decision it makes my head hurt.

Some have tried to claim health care reform’s sinking popularity was due to the bill being “too lefty.” The logic behind this is extremely twisted because, as the debate moved forward in Congress, the bill became increasingly less progressive, and so, all the while, the bill kept getting more and more unpopular. The evidence indicates that it was the many changes that made reform more corporate-friendly and less consumer-friendly (dropping the public option, dropping Medicare buy-in, not repealing insurers’ anti-trust exemption, stopping drug re-importation, not allowing Medicare to directly negotiate for lower drug prices) that killed its popularity.

The new poll points to a growing concern that Democrats are too lobbyist-friendly, and care more about corporate America than regular Americans.

QUESTION: Are Democrats in Washington more on the side of the lobbyists and special interests or on the side of people like you?
OVERALL 44% 31% 25%
DEMOCRATS 32% 53% 15%
REPUBLICANS 45% 12% 43%
INDEPENDENTS 51% 30% 19%
CO-04 (Markey) 45% 33% 22%
FL-24 (Kosmas) 45% 29% 26%
MI-07 (Schauer) 42% 32% 26%
NC-08 (Kissell) 40% 33% 27%
NM-01 (Heinrich) 41% 35% 24%
NM-02 (Teague) 44% 31% 25%
OH-01 (Driehaus) 44% 27% 29%
OH-15 (Kilroy) 46% 29% 25%
OH-16 (Boccieri) 47% 30% 23%
VA-05 (Perriello) 44% 34% 22%
QUESTION: Are Democrats in Washington doing too much to fight corporate America or should they do more to fight big corporations?
OVERALL 55% 31% 14%
DEMOCRATS 65% 23% 12%
REPUBLICANS 43% 40% 17%
INDEPENDENTS 58% 30% 12%
CO-04 (Markey) 57% 31% 12%
FL-24 (Kosmas) 51% 35% 14%
MI-07 (Schauer) 57% 27% 16%
NC-08 (Kissell) 59% 26% 15%
NM-01 (Heinrich) 58% 28% 14%
NM-02 (Teague) 54% 33% 13%
OH-01 (Driehaus) 53% 34% 13%
OH-15 (Kilroy) 55% 31% 14%
OH-16 (Boccieri) 53% 34% 13%
VA-05 (Perriello) 55% 32% 13%

A majority of people (55%) in swing districts don’t think Democrats are doing enough to fight corporate America. I bet if the same question were asked about just the banks and private insurance companies, the number would be dramatically higher. Even a third of Democrats think their party in Washington cares more about lobbyists than regular people. That is a recipe for an incredibly depressed base turnout.

House Democrats have a clear and simple choice before them if they opt for passing health care reform using the reconciliation sidecar strategy. They can add very popular provisions like the public option, Medicare buy-in, and drug re-importation to the bill. The can use the money saved by the public option to reduce unpopular taxes or add more money to popular programs. They can point to the public option as a very popular public stand against the very unpopular private health insurance corporations. Then, House Democrats hope they can ride the wave of populist anger instead of getting crushed by it.

The other option is to pass the unpopular Senate bill with another even more unpopular reconciliation measure. This unpopular reconciliation bill will be attacked by Republicans as containing more tax increases, more Medicare cuts, and special secret deals just for labor unions.

The latter is a political death wish. If House Democrats in swing districts choose this option, they might as well retire right now. On the other hand, the public option strategy polls very well. It just might help save health care reform, improve the terrible poll numbers for the bill, and give the base a reason to turn out in 2010. Making the right decision, the popular decision, and the politically smart decision should not be hard.