Medicare working to boost Obama in swing states, poll finds
By N.C. Aizenman, Jon Cohen and Peyton M. Craighill, Thursday, September 27, 6:23 AM
Voters in three critical swing states broadly oppose the sweeping changes to Medicare proposed by Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and, by big margins, favor President Obama over Mitt Romney on the issue, according to new state polls by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Among seniors, the issue rivals the economy as a top voting issue, undercutting Romney’s appeal in Florida, Ohio and Virginia. Generally, the more voters focus on Medicare, the more likely they are to support the president’s bid for reelection.
A focus on Medicare as an issue also blunts potential fallout from Obama’s 2010 health-care reform law. The law remains controversial and is, according to an analysis of these new poll results, a drag on Obama’s reelection prospects. In Florida and Ohio, more voters have “strongly unfavorable” than “strongly favorable” impressions of the health law.
Sizable majorities of voters in each of these three states — as well as those across the country — say they prefer to keep Medicare as a defined benefits program, rather than moving to a system of fixed payments to seniors to buy coverage from private insurance or traditional Medicare. The “premium support” idea is one featured in the Republican budget proposed by Ryan and backed by Romney. The desire to keep the system as it is peaks at 65 percent in Florida, where more than one in five 2008 voters were age 65 and up.
Underlying support for not changing Medicare is the widespread belief that the system is working well for today’s seniors. In Florida, 70 percent of all voters say the system is working well — rising to 91 percent of the state’s seniors — and positive assessments of Medicare is nearly as high in the other states.
Asked whom they trust to deal with the Medicare program, Ohio voters side with Obama over Romney by a 19 percentage-point margin. The president has a 15-point advantage on the issue in Florida and a 13-point lead on it in Virginia.
Democratic blogger Kevin Drum responds:
Really, it's pretty amazing. Just two years ago, Republicans walloped Democrats in the midterm election, at least partly due to a tsunami of ads accusing them of taking money away from Medicare. And Republicans have been on the receiving end of Medicare attack ads too. So they know perfectly well just how sensitive this issue is and how much damage it can do. And yet, somehow they convinced themselves that Paul Ryan had some kind of magic fairy dust that would make the American public sit up and suddenly say to themselves, "He's right! We do need to turn Medicare into a voucher!"
I dunno. The entire Republican Party seems to have fallen into some kind of Svengali-like trance, convinced that Paul Ryan, alone among men, can deliver the bracing tonic that will convince voters to do away with program benefits they've loved and supported for decades. The self-delusion here is inexplicable.
Okay, but what else are the Republicans allowed to put forward other than a libertarianish ideology at home and war abroad?
Then, again, if you let your enemies define which arguments you are allowed to make, is it any surprise if the permitted lines of appeal aren't all that effective?
For example, the media has devoted 24 years to demonizing the Willie Horton ad of 1988. (Why? Because it was an effective ad about a very real issue.)
I know there is much knife-sharpening among Republicans to denounce Romney and/or Ryan as bad candidates who couldn't sell a good ideology, but, I dunno. You've got a ticket of smart, good-looking, hard-working, competent, sane, morally decent, diversely-accomplished guys and, yet, what they're selling isn't being bought. Maybe the problem is less with the messengers than with the message?