Good News, Frustrating News

New Washington Post-ABC News poll on the public option:

But it is the public option that has become the major point of contention, with support for the government creation of an insurance plan that would compete with private insurers stabilizing in the survey after dipping last month. Now, 55 percent say they like the idea, but the notion continues to attract intense objection: If that single provision were removed, opposition to the overall package drops by six percentage points, according to the poll.

Regarding that last part, the wording in the poll question describes the public option as "government-sponsored" which implies the government is paying for it, rather than the public option being paid for by premiums from customers.

Nevertheless, the numbers for the public option are up -- and that's a good thing, despite the Washington Post's negative and misleading descriptions: "point of contention" and "intense objection." I don't know how a 55 percent majority, up from 53 percent last month, can be defined as "intense objection."

UPDATE: Via the comments (thanks, guys) Nate Silver analyses the poll here and, predictably, finds some very important problems with the results. Regarding the reason for the increase in support for healthcare reform without a public option, Silver writes:

When you're specifying that the plan does not include a public option, you're really doing two things. Number one, you're taking the public option off the table. But number two, you're providing specificity. And what the health care polling has consistently shown over the past few months is that the more specificity you provide, the more support for the package rises.

So not only does the description of the public option change from question to question, landing on the misleading "government-sponsored" wording, but specificity also provides increased support for reform. It just so happens that due to the crappy wording, the specificity appears to play against the public option in that context.

Ultimately, I would be much more worried if the results for reform in general and the results for the public option were reversed. The fact remains, support for the public option (when accurately described) is strong and on the rise.