Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 | 3:56 p.m.
One-third of voters in Nevada say they would be more likely to vote for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this fall if he wins passage of the public option in the health care bill, according to a poll released today.
Reid continues to trail his potential Republican opponents by double-digit margins, according to the Research 2000 poll. But Reid could peel off 20 percent of support from Republicans Danny Tarkanian or Sue Lowden if he won passage of the public option.
“It looks like there is a path to salvation for him if he not only fights for, but wins, the public option,” said Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which commissioned the poll with Credo Action and Democracy for America.
The polling comes as President Barack Obama unveiled a newly drafted health care compromise today in advance of a White House summit with bipartisan congressional leaders on Thursday.
The administration’s $950 billion proposal reignites the issue that has consumed Congress for much of 2009, and was all but dead after the surprising special election of Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts which toppled the Democrats’ 60-seat majority in the Senate.
As the White House and Democratic leaders head into those talks with Republicans, the poll showed that bipartisanship may not be so important to voters. Fifty-three percent said passing the public option even with zero Republican votes would make them more likely to vote for Democrats this fall than bringing Republicans to the table (40 percent). The margin was wider among independent voters, who often decide elections in Nevada.
The administration has said it is up to Reid to decide whether to use the budget reconciliation procedure, which only requires a simple 51-vote majority – meaning no likely Republican support -- to pass the public option in health care.
Reid supports the public option, but eliminated it from the final Senate version of the bill that passed in a dramatic Christmas Eve vote when it was unable to get the 60 votes needed for support.
A Reid spokesman said last week that if a decision is made to use the reconciliation process, Reid would work to craft a public option that could secure enough votes for passage.
Overall, health care reform continues to divide Nevadans, with 58 percent opposed to the bill the Senate version of the bill.
The new bill from Obama largely mirrors the Senate bill, but makes several concessions to appeal to House Democrats who wanted more generous subsidies to help families pay for insurance.
The poll of 600 likely voters was conducted Feb. 9-10 by Research 2000.