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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Social Security: What Part of “No” Don’t You Understand?

Polling data continue to stream in indicating that the public’s answer to Bush’s Social Security plan is a polite, but firm, “no”.
A Quinniapiac University poll released on March 9 found Bush’s approval rating on Social Security down to 28 percent, with 59 percent disapproval. Among independents, that rating worsens to 25/62.
In addition, the public opposes “reducing Social Security benefits to bring more money into the Social Security system” (part of Bush’s plan) by 81-16, but supports “raising [the] $90,000 income cap to help bring more money into Social Security system” (which Bush opposes) by 72-23.
The latest Ipsos-AP poll, released on March 10, measures his approval rating on Social Security at 37 percent with 56 percent disapproval, down slightly from 39/56 in late February. And his approval rating on this issue among “pure” independents (those who refuse to lean toward either party) is now a stunningly bad 20/62.
Finally, in the new Washington Post/ABC News poll, released today, Bush’s approval rating on Social Security has dropped to 35 percent, with 56 percent disapproval, his lowest rating every on this issue in this poll.
The poll also finds that the public now opposes “Bush’s proposals to change the Social Security system” 55-37. Even worse for Bush, 58 percent of the public says that, the more they hear about these proposals, the less they like them. That compares to just 33 percent who say that the more they hear about these proposals, the more they like them.
In addition, the benefit-cutting part of Bush’s plan generates strong 57-36 opposition even when described using Bush’s preferred language: “Changing the way Social Security benefits are calculated so that benefits increase at a slower rate than they would under the current formula”. And the more straightforward language of “Reducing guaranteed benefits for future retirees” yields overwhelming 75-20 opposition.
That’s a lot of “no” in a lot of different ways. Perhaps even Bush is getting to the point where he can (or perhaps must) understand this all-important two-letter word.