Chris Bowers and Steve Benen point out that the vote on a Schumer amendment—which includes a public option, but not one tied to Medicare rates—garnered the votes of Bill Nelson, and, somewhat shockingly, Tom Carper, which is probably a good sign for the prospects of an equivalent amendment on the floor. Indeed, Tom Harkin (D-IA) seems to "believe that there are, comfortably, 51 votes for a public option". It certainly looks that way, especially once someone tells to Kent Conrad that the Schumer plan looks nothing like the United Kingdom's health care system. Maybe TR Reid can give him a call and explain the thesis of his book one more time.
Now the question is, can the Leadership convince those Senators who are opposed to the public option not to join Republicans in a filibuster, and simply vote no for an amendment that passes the prospects for a serious bill are looking pretty good.