Polling Shows Dent’s Medicare-Ending Budget Vote is a Political Disaster

A few data points to supplement my case that Charlie Dent’s bait and switch on Medicare is a big problem for the Congressman’s reelection prospects next year.

According to CNN, in just the past few weeks, Barack Obama’s approval rating among senior citizens increased by 9 points. Seniors are starting to realize they got played for suckers in 2010.

A Herndon Alliance poll found that voters oppose a neutral description of RyanCare by a 16 point margin, and the plan becomes much more unpopular when respondents hear about the drawbacks:

The results? Just 38% support the plan and 54% oppose it. According to the groups, that opposition shoots up after voters are given some political messaging “about the substance of Republicans’ proposed changes to Medicare.”

Going deeper, the numbers show President Obama with the upper hand in more than just the Medicare fight. On healthcare, the poll shows voters trust Obama over the congressional GOP by a margin of 48-41. They trust Obama more on Medicare by a margin of 47-39.

But the most surprising numbers — and possibly the best one for Obama — are the results showing that political messaging against the Ryan budget may actually increase the numbers who support the Obama’s health care law. The legislation is enemy number one for Republicans heading into 2012, who hope to use continuing wariness about the bill to attack the president and Democrats this fall.

Another CNN poll released this afternoon finds similar numbers, that are actually way worse when you look at the demographic breakdown. Greg Sargent explains:

A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans don’t like what they’ve heard so far about congressional Republicans’ plans to change Medicare.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, a majority also don’t think the GOP has cooperated enough with President Barack Obama and, for the first time since they won back control of the House last November, the number of Americans who say that Republican control of the chamber is good for the country has dropped below the 50 percent mark.

The poll indicates that 58 percent of the public opposes the Republican plan on Medicare, with 35 percent saying they support the proposal…

“Half of those we questioned say that the country would be worse off under the GOP Medicare proposals and 56 percent think that GOP plan would be bad for the elderly,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Opposition is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare even if those changes are presented as ones that would not affect existing Medicare recipients.”

Of course, RyanCare absolutely impacts current beneficiaries, as Ryan allows private insurers to pick the meat off the bones of traditional Medicare, leaving only the unhealthiest in the risk pool, where costs will spiral. Seniors already don’t believe they won’t be impacted, and that number’s only going to get worse as Democratic challengers relentlessly hammer this point in 2012.

Worst of all, Republicans can’t even count on their own voters to defend RyanCare. The plan is even unpopular with Republicans and self-identified conservatives:

Among conservatives, 54% are opposed. Among current seniors — who would not be affected by the changes in the Ryan Medicare plan — a full 74% are opposed, even after they’re told that Ryan’s plan affects Americans 55 years of age and younger.

Even Republicans break against Ryan’s plan, though only slightly. Fifty percent oppose the plan, while 48% support it.

With numbers like this, it’s no wonder Democrats have pulled ahead of Republicans on the generic ballot, and people like Charlie Cook are saying the House is in play. They’re only going to get worse from here.

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