If a public plan were run by the states and available only to those who lack affordable private options, support for it jumps to 76 percent. Under those circumstances, even a majority of Republicans, 56 percent, would be in favor of it, about double their level of support without such a limitation.The problem is this is not what the Washington Post poll found. This above statement can't be supported by their polling data. The Washington Post committed two big errors in their polling and their reporting on it. First they only asked the people who said they were opposed to the first public option question if they would support a public option run by the states that would be open only to people without private insurance:
9.(IF OPPOSE/NO OPINION FOR GOVERNMENT PLAN) What if this government-sponsored plan was run by state governments and was available only to people who did not have a choice of affordable private insurance? In that case would you support or oppose this idea?The Washington Post is assuming that everyone who supports a plan where “the government create[s] a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans,” would still support the much weaker public option described in question 9. This is simply not true.
I personally support a public option but would oppose the state-based public plan described in the following question. There must be others who would oppose the idea because it is not progressive enough. How many people are like me? I don't know and neither does the Washington Post. . . because it never asked. The poll does not verify the paper's claim that 76 percent of Americans would support this much weaker version of a public option.
The other problem with the poll is that question 9 should have been divided into two separate parts. It combines two different ideas (state-based public plans and restricting eligibility) in a single question. It is impossible to know if both changes increase support, only one, or one makes people more supportive while the other makes them generally less supportive.
A previous ABC News-Washington Post poll showed restricting eligibility for the public option to those "who can't get coverage from a private insurer" resulted in the exact same level of support for the public option:
This poll shows a flip side: Support for a public option swells to 76 percent if it were available only to people who can't get coverage from a private insurer.Without proper polling data, it is impossible to judge what effect having the public plans “run by the state governments” would have on support, but using their own previous polling, the effect is probably minimal at best. That phrase should not have been added to the question, and the Washington Post is misleading its readers into thinking that having public options run by the states would result in increased support for the idea.