The GOP’s Poll Problems

by Andrew Stiles

A new McClatchy poll brings some bad news for Republicans in light of the House’s vote to adopt Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R., Wis.) budget proposal last week, which includes politically risky reforms to Medicare. According to the poll of registered voters, 80 percent oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the deficit, including 68 percent of self-identified conservatives and 70 percent of Tea Party supporters.

Granted, respondents aren’t asked to decide whether they would rather “save Medicare by reforming it for future retirees” (per the Ryan plan) or “pretend like everything’s fine even though Medicare is going bankrupt in nine years” (the ‘reelect Obama in 2012′ plan). But these results, which are consistent with those of similar polls, further underscore the momentous educational challenge facing Republicans as they attempt to sell Ryan’s plan to skeptical voters and stem the onslaught of Democratic demagoguery, e.g., this ridiculous ad from the DCCC:

In regard to their position on taxes, Republicans fare slightly better. According to the same McClatchy poll, 64 percent support reducing the deficit by increasing taxes on incomes over $250,000 — that includes 45 percent of conservatives and Tea Party supporters. However, Republicans ought to feel more confident in their ability to win this debate, given that they recently did so in securing the across-the-board tax-rate extension during last year’s lame-duck session, but also because people’s opinions appear to change depending on how the question is framed. For instance, a recent Gallup poll asked: “Do you think our government should or should not redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich?” Only 47 percent of respondents said government “should,” versus 49 percent who said the government “should not.” 

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