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Montanans Not Backing Baucus' Work On Health Care

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The story below includes references to polling conducted by the firm Research 2000. The reliability and accuracy of Research 2000's polling has since been called into serious question by a report published in June 2010 by a group of statistical analysts.

Montanans are not terribly keen on the job that home state Senator Max Baucus is doing on health care reform, according to a new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll.

Only 42 percent of Montana residents -- and 34 percent of Democrats -- said they favored the work Baucus had done in shepherding health care legislation through the Senate Finance Committee. Forty-four percent of respondents said they disapproved, according to the poll of more than 600 people in the state.

The results may be partially attributable to Baucus's apparent decision to craft legislation without a public option. Within Montana, 47 percent of the public supports creating a "public health insurance option," while 43 percent oppose it. Looking closer at the numbers, slightly less than one-quarter of Republicans (23 percent) support a public plan. Forty-eight percent of independents and 78 percent of Democrats support the provision.

Baucus' role in overseeing health care reform on the critical Senate Finance Committee has caused a great deal of consternation among progressives. The Montana Democrat has been targeted by ads calling into question the millions of dollars in campaign donations he has received from private insurance and health industry interests. His failure to meet a self-imposed August recess deadline for producing legislation -- and his willingness to negotiate away the public plan -- has only infuriated those Democrats more.

That said, a majority of Montanans continue to view Baucus positively, with 50 percent of the Daily Kos/Research 2000 respondents saying they had a favorable view of the Senator compared to the 42 percent who had an unfavorable view. And while the state's residents are supportive of a public plan, most said that Baucus' stance on the provision won't affect their support of him.

Asked how their votes would be affected if Baucus were to oppose "a public health insurance option," 17 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for the Senator, 22 percent said they would be less likely to vote for him. Sixty-one percent said it would have no effect.

Asked how their votes would be affected if Baucus "joined Republican Senators in filibustering and killing a final health care bill because it had a public health insurance option," 27 percent said they would be less likely to vote for him, 15 percent said they would be more likely to vote for him. Fifty-eight percent said it would have no effect.

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