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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Public Option Gains Traction, Heat’s on Reid

Open Left‘s AdamGreen flags Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com post, “Why The (Impure) Public Option is (Probably) Gaining Momentum,” which provides an insightful 10-point explanation of why this pivotal health care reform is finding new traction. Silver’s #1 should be a source of encouragement (despite the zinger) for progressive bloggers:

1. The tireless, and occasionally tiresome, advocacy on behalf of liberal bloggers and interest groups for the public option. Whatever you think of their tactics — I haven’t always agreed with them — the sheer amount of focus and energy expended on their behalf has been very important, keeping the issue alive in the public debate.

Among Silver’s other factors:

2. The fact that the CBO thinks it will save money.
5. The “innovation” of the opt-in/opt-out family of compromises, which have more liberal “street cred” than co-ops or triggers and are potentially also much more politically advantageous.
6. The fading from memory of the tea party protests and the “government takeover” meme.
7. Polls in myriad swing states and swing districts showing the public option is reasonably popular in these regions.

And, in addition to points 1 and 6, Silver’s point #9 should be of particular interest to activists concerned about media strategy for health care reform:

9. The insurance industry’s “senior moment”: forgetting that this isn’t 1993 and that the shelf life of a misleading study would be measured in hours (rather than days or weeks) and would damage its credibility in the process.

Green’s post also includes a video clip, in which Rachel Maddow (who else?) conducts a substantive interview of Green, co-chair of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Green presents a compelling argument explaining why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s most important legacy as a public servant would be providing strong leadership for the public option — and may be his best shot at saving his own bacon (54 percent of Nevadans want it).

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