Verrrry curious given that most of the other numbers on ObamaCare are either flat or getting worse. Support for the plan is negative at 38/42 (last month it was 39/41), many more think the quality of health care will get worse than get better (40/21 versus 36/19 last month), and 47 percent think costs will go up versus just 13 percent who think they’ll go down. Obama’s handling of the issue stands at 43/48, which is also a slight decline from last month. So … what gives?

public-option

The sample is 43/31 in favor of Democrats if you include leaners, which is the same 12-point margin they used last month when they found a narrow plurality opposing the public plan. If you read Jay Cost’s post last week about polling on this subject, you know that the choice of words — a “government-run” plan versus a plan “administered” by the government — may affect the response, and that support plummets if you ask a follow-up question about employers possibly dropping private insurance if the public option is available. But even so, those considerations were present in September too; they don’t explain why support would be spiking now. Maybe the news lately about Reid’s option with an opt-out or Snowe’s option with a trigger is softening opposition? The point of Cost’s post is that the fewer teeth the public plan seems to have, the more comfortable voters feel with it; it stands to reason, then, that as you add caveats to it a la Reid and Snowe that appear to make it optional or conditional, voters would feel even more comfortable. Even if those added options or conditions are mostly illusory.

Or maybe support for the public option really is cresting and I’m just trying to spin myself here. It’s worth noting that the Dems have actually gained on the generic ballot since last month, up from 43/40 to 46/38. And while 23 percent said they trust Washington to do what is right most of the time, that isn’t translating into some Beck-ian groundswell of support for a third party. Note the trend, or lack thereof:

third-party

Third parties are actually slightly less popular now than they were a week before the Democrats swept to victory in the ’06 midterms? Why?