According to the Daily Kos survey, which the blog conducted in association with the independent polling firm Research 2000, 61 percent of all Cooper's constituents and 80 percent of Democrats in his district favor creating a new public health insurance plan that anyone can purchase.
Cooper says he's not against the public option, although the bill he's sponsoring doesn't include one. If Cooper opposed the public option, that would make 47 percent of Democrats less likely to vote for his reelection, according to the poll.
"There is certainly an opening for a strong primary challenge," Kos writes. "Cooper isn't the lock many (including him) believe him to be. And why are the natives restless? His long record of obstructing health care reform surely ranks among the reasons. The public option polls strongly in Cooper's district, yet he doesn't seem to care. While he's supposed to represent his constituents, he seems more concerned with representing the insurance companies. It's more lucrative that way.
"Cooper has two options. He can stop obstructing and get aboard the public option, or he should start gearing up for a tough primary in 2010. Then he can determine if all that insurance money is really worth the hassle."
In a statement to Pith, Cooper accuses Daily Kos of cooking up the poll results to make him look bad. On top of that, he insists, he's actually for the public option, not against it. Here's his response:
"Private polls are inherently inaccurate, and most people disregard them. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and the Daily Kos got what it wanted. The whole premise of the poll is that I oppose a public option, and that is simply not true. I have repeatedly said that I'm FOR a public option, and that there are multiple ways to do it. I agree with Sen. Chuck Schumer's position on the issue, and the Daily Kos is not attacking him.
"The Daily Kos can assign a false position to me if it wants, but it's not accurate.
"In addition, I did find things to like about this poll! Only 23% want to replace me? That's great, since 34% VOTED to replace me in 2008. At this point, I might be gaining support.
"But the real reason you have to doubt a poll like this is the following: President Obama won my district with 56% of the vote. This poll shows his favorable number at 66%, up 10 points. While I would like to think that President Obama's numbers were that good, we all know that the polls have been bad for our President this month. The President has lost ground all over the country, but in the 5th district of Tennessee, he's up by 10? I wish it were true, but I doubt seriously that it is.
"I will continue my fight for health reform. We need to cover EVERYONE, and we need to do so responsibly so that we don't bankrupt the country. This has always been my position, this is the President's position, and I will continue to work with him to get the job done."