There has been a lot of talk about the new WaPo/ABC poll that finds 57% of the respondents want the public option, with 51% saying go for it without Republican support.
Another interesting number in this new poll is 20%. That’s how many people now identify themselves as Republican. The numbers are very dire for the GOP:
Only 20 percent of Americans now identify themselves as Republicans, the fewest in 26 years. Just 19 percent, similarly, trust the Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions for the country’s future; even among Republicans themselves just four in 10 are confident in their own party. For comparison, 49 percent overall express this confidence in Obama, steady since August albeit well below its peak.
And while it looks bad for Republicans, it should also send a warning shot to Democrats. On a nearly 3:1 basis people support the public option more than they claim to be a Republican. That’s a huge margin. So what will happen if the Democrats scrap the public option because of Republican opposition, or put in other words – if the majority party gave in to the 20% minority party? Simple – loss of power.
No I am not saying that everyone will say “that’s it I’m voting Republican”. Instead what will happen is people will say “that’s it, I’m done voting!” 2010 is a mid-term year and already has the obstacle of being near impossible to get voters to head to the polls. Add to that a disgust with the Democrats for not listening to their base, and you will see far less head out to the polling places. Likewise Republicans will be touting the defeat of the public option as a huge victory over Democrats and use that to energize their base, thus translating that energy into votes.
The Democratic leadership needs to look at these numbers and realize that their base isn’t some fringe, but rather a majority of this country. Ignoring them is suicidal. Perhaps its time to ignore all the Republican crying and start ramming through the Democratic agenda. Go it alone because you do have the public behind you.