THE DESIRE FOR BIPARTISANSHIP IS NOT UNLIMITED…. There have been several national polls of late pointing, much to my chagrin, to strong public support for “bipartisan” health care reform. A New York Times/CBS News poll released in late September, for example, found that the public strongly disapproves of Republican efforts, but nevertheless wants Democrats to get GOP support before passing a bill.

The latest nonpartisan Research 2000 poll for Daily Kos, however, put a twist on the question and found an interesting result.

Which of the following scenarios do you prefer/ do you prefer?

Getting a health care bill with the choice of a strong public health insurance option to compete with private insurance plans that’s supported only by Democrats in Congress, OR Getting a health care bill with no public option that has the support of Democrats and a handful of Republicans?

Public option: 52%
No public option: 39%

Even self-identified independents preferred the Dem-only bill with a public option, 47% to 42%.

Greg Sargent highlighted the significance of the poll: “It’s true that other polls have found that majorities prefer that the final bill be bipartisan. But here’s the rub: The previous polls asked the question in isolation — do you want a bipartisan bill, or a partisan one — without explaining to respondents that winning over Republicans could result in actual policy consequences that they might not like. The above is a more accurate framing of the choice the public — and lawmakers — face right now.”

Something for on-the-fence lawmakers to consider: bipartisanship is popular, but the public option is considered more important.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.