Blue Dog Rep. Jim Cooper, to Daily Kos:
He who pays the piper calls the tune .
That was Cooper's way of charging Daily Kos with buying the poll results it wanted, since it turns out his constituents strongly support the public option, and aren't too happy with his performance. Given that he himself is bought and paid for by insurance industries, what we saw was a clear case of projection. If the insurance execs can get him to vote against his constituents' interests by lining his pockets with cash, why then couldn't Daily Kos buy the poll results it wanted?
Well, not really. The results of our Nebraska health care poll pretty much proves that.
Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 8/17-19. Likely voters. MoE 4% (No trend lines)
Do you approve or disapprove of Sen. Ben Nelson's actions on health care?
All 56 39
Dem 22 72
GOP 76 19
Ind 61 35
Do you favor or oppose creating a new public health insurance plan that anyone can purchase?
All 39 47
Dem 76 14
GOP 15 68
Ind 38 49
Nebraska is a fairly conservative state (despite Obama's grabbing of a single electoral vote in 2008), and so it should come to no surprise that the public option faces a tough fight. If anything, the surprise is that opposition to the public option doesn't have majority support (just plurality). And while the state's Democrats are on the right side of the debate, they are grossly outnumbered and independents aren't with us.
Unlike Max Baucus or Jim Cooper, Ben Nelson is actually not out of touch with his constituents.
If Ben Nelson joined Republican Senators in filibustering and killing a final health care bill because it had a public health insurance option would that make you more or less likely to vote for him or would it have no real effect on your vote?
All 21 15
Dem 7 24
GOP 31 9
Ind 19 15
We can assume Nelson will vote against any bill with a robust public option. The big question is whether he will join Republicans in filibustering such a bill. Nebraska Republicans would sure love that, but at the end of the day, they'll vote for a real Republican in a contested election. Nelson would gain a small sliver from Independents, per this poll, but his real danger is among Democrats -- where he would lose a full 17 points of support.
There's a danger that Nelson could so alienate the Democratic base in Nebraska that it could cost him in 2012. It's a small base, but in a tight election (like he had in 2000), every vote would count:
If Nelson was to play this properly, he'd vote against any robust public option (and be justified doing so, given his constituency), but allow an up-or-down vote on the bill. Given the political realities of his state, that's the best we could hope for.