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Public Opinion and the Public Option Debate

BY   October 27, 2009 at 5:39 PM EDT

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Getty Images

It was angrily denounced at town hall meetings and declared all but dead by pundits this summer.

But its supporters have managed to keep the debate alive — and most polls have consistently shown a majority of Americans support it.

Now, the pendulum seems to have swung. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said that he plans to incorporate a public option into the bill he’ll bring to the Senate floor — albeit one that will allow states to opt out.

Two analysts answer the question:

How has public opinion shaped Congress’ debate over whether to include a public option in health care reform legislation?

Amy Walter, editor of The Hotline, on why state-by-state opinion is more important than national polls:

Dante Chinni, head of the NewsHour and Christian Science Monitor Patchwork Nation project, on how media coverage of town hall meetings drowned out actual public opinion on the public option.