Poll: Biden proposal more popular than 'Medicare for All' in general election

A new poll finds that more voters favor an optional government-run health insurance plan, as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins MORE advocates, than full-scale "Medicare for All" that eliminates private health insurance, as advocated by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Sanders tells Maher 'there will be a number of plans' to remove Trump if he loses Sirota reacts to report of harassment, doxing by Harris supporters MORE (I-Vt.). 

The poll could give credence to Biden's argument against his main two rivals in the Democratic White House race, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds On The Money: Half of states deplete funds for Trump's 0 unemployment expansion | EU appealing ruling in Apple tax case | House Democrats include more aid for airlines in coronavirus package Warren, Khanna request IG investigation into Pentagon's use of coronavirus funds MORE (D-Mass.), that an optional plan is more popular in a general election than the full-scale Medicare for All that Sanders and Warren advocate. 

The USC/Los Angeles Times poll finds that 48 percent of eligible voters surveyed support giving everyone the option of a government-run health insurance plan, compared to just 14 percent who oppose it. Thirty-eight percent had not heard enough to have an opinion.

The full-scale Medicare for All, which eliminates private health insurance, polls somewhat worse. That proposal gets 39 percent support to 34 percent opposition. 

Warren and Sanders are outspoken supporters of that full-scale Medicare for All, brushing aside worries about eliminating private insurance by arguing that people will not miss having to deal with private health insurance companies and that their new coverage will be more generous, with no copays or deductibles. 

Among only Democratic primary voters, the poll found many supported both ideas. More than 4 in 10 voters polled supported both the optional plan and full-scale Medicare for All. Nineteen percent supported only the optional plan and 14 percent supported only full Medicare for All. 

The polling could also become important as Democrats weigh which of their candidates might best contend with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE

An increasing number of polls show all three candidates defeating Trump in one-on-one match-ups, but a key part of Biden's campaign has been the argument that he is more electable to Democrats in states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that Democrats lost to Trump in 2016. Implicit in Biden's message is that Democrats might lose to Trump if they run too far to the left.

Warren and Sanders have both pointed to polls showing that they would beat Trump in head-to-head match-ups. 

Questions about Biden's gaffes and age have also raised questions about his own electability, with some critics saying he would be an easy target for Trump. 

The poll surveyed 5,367 eligible voters from Aug. 12 to Sept. 8, with a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.