Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid is downplaying Joe Lieberman's defection.
"I have the greatest confidence in Joe Lieberman's ability as a legislator, and he will work with us when this gets on the floor and I'm sure he'll have some interesting things to do in the way of amendments. But Joe Lieberman is the least of Harry Reid's problems," said Sen. Reid.
Republicans say if Lieberman or anyone votes to open debate on the bill, they'll pay a price
"I think we all remember the Kerry campaign and we all remember the difficulty of explaining to our constituents why we were for something before we were against it," Said Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Lieberman has said he won't block debate on the public option; he just won't support the final bill.
"What's particular about Joe is he represents a state that has big insurance companies headquartered in it, and they no doubt give him money and he has to look out for their interests. And that's probably whats on his mind," said ABC7's Political Analyst Bruce Cain.
Insurance companies and health care providers are among the biggest contributors to Senator Lieberman's reelection campaign.
But a bigger factor in the battle is being played outside the Senate -- the so-called 'outside game' that began this summer with the tea party rallies protesting against the public option.
Gini David is one of the organizers of the tea party movement in the Bay Area.
"Opposition is really strong against government controlled health care. It's really strong," she said.
That was certainly more evident this summer, but since then supporters of the public option began demonstrating. The web site moveon.org is unveiling a new television ad and as poll numbers show support is increasing.
On Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi took another page out of the republican play book by using language to reframe the debate.
"It's not really a public option it's a consumer option," said Speaker Pelosi.
ABC7 asked David if there are plans to organize new protests against the public option.
"Not that I'm aware of, not that I'm aware of," she said.
Cain said what the summer and fall have taught us is, it's a mistake for either side to abandon the outside game.
"The lesson is pretty clear, which is you've got to play the outside game in order to bolster your chances with the inside game," he said.
As the Senate wrangles with the inside games, expect to see more of the outside game being played on the streets and on TV.