Public Opinion and the Public Option Debate

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.

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