Poll: Bennet right on the public option; Norton wrong

U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton railed against Sen. Michael Bennet this week for a letter he wrote in favor of passing health reform legislation that includes a public insurance option. She believes Coloradans don’t want a public option because she thinks they don’t want lawmakers to pass any health reform legislation at all. She says Bennet was treating the wishes of Coloradans with contempt. But a Research 2000 Colorado poll suggests it’s just the opposite, that the majority of Coloradans want reform and are in favor of a public health insurance option.

michael bennet

The public option was at the heart of the Democratic vision of health reform last year but it was put aside when it appeared it would fail to pass through regular Senate voting procedures. Bennet, following from a proposal drawn up by Colorado Congressman Jared Polis earlier in the month, is asking Senate leaders to now pass legislation with a public option through the process known as reconciliation, which eliminates the possibility of a filibuster.

Reconciliation was developed in 1970s as an answer to legislative gridlock. Safe to say, the government is suffering a whopping case of gridlock now, and the Research 2000 poll suggests Colorado voters want Democrats to take action to pass legislation and that they are in favor of the public option by large margins.

According to the poll, 87 percent of Colorado Democrats approved of Polis’s move to pass legislation with the public option. More surprising, given the rhetoric of politicians like Norton, 30 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Independents also supported the move.

Norton, though, is sure Bennet is not acting in the interest of Coloradans. From her press release this week:

Senator Bennet has reliably demonstrated a disconnect with Coloradans on the issue of healthcare, but today’s letter crossed the line into outright contempt for their wishes…

This is exactly the kind of political gamesmanship that has people fed up with Congress and Senator Bennet in particular.”

The Bennet letter, originally co-signed by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, now has gained ten eleven senator signatures. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., added her signature Wednesday night in the wake of news that Anthem Blue Cross planned to raise insurance rates 39 percent in California.

Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, one of the organizations that commissioned the Colorado poll, believes Norton is the politician who is disconnected. He’s not sure where she’s getting her data.

“If Jane Norton wants to pander to the teabagger fringe within her own party, that’s fine. But if she seriously doesn’t get that nearly 60 percent of Colorado’s independent voters want the public health insurance option that she’s trashing and Mike Bennet’s championing, she’s in for the rudest of awakenings in the general election, if she makes it that far.”

The Norton campaign did not return requests for comment on why she thinks the majority of Coloradans don’t support health reform and the public option.

Green’s Progressive Change Campaign Committee commissioned the poll along with Democracy for America, and Credo Action on January 30 and 31. The poll tapped 600 statewide likely 2010 general election voters.

Here’s one of the relevant questions asked by the Research 2000 pollsters:

polis poll

Green also released another question from the poll exclusively to the Colorado Independent today. The answers suggest Coloradans don’t trust the free market to fix health care the way Norton imagines they do.

public option poll

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