washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Oh Sure, Telling People You Want to Cut Their Benefits Will Certainly Turn These Numbers Around

A little bit before Bush told everyone that, yes indeed, he did want to cut their guaranteed Social Security benefits, Americans United to Protect Social Security released a Hart Research poll that showed how little progress–negative progress–his 60 day tour to promote privatization had made. How anyone could look at these and similar data and conclude that Bush can turn things around by specifying how much he wants to cut benefits is beyond me.
Here are the key findings from the Hart Research poll:
1. Bush’s approval rating on handling Social Security is now 32 percent, down from 43 percent on February 6.
2. In January, voters opposed Bush’s Social Security proposals by 46-39; today, they oppose them 52-41.
3. The more voters hear about Bush’s Social Security plan, the less (52 percent), rather than more (27 percent), they like it.
4. By 43-19, voters say that, if their Congressional representative voted for Bush’s plan, it would make them less likely, not more likely, to vote for them in the next election.
5. By 51-34, voters believe Bush’s plan would make the Social Security system weaker.
6. By 58-26, they believe Bush has been misleading about his plan, rather than providing a full and accurate description.
7. By 58-32, voters say Democrats are raising legitimate concerns about Bush’s plan, rather than engaging in unfair political attacks.
8. Only 18 percent believe Bush’s plan would mean higher overall Social Security benefits.
9. In January, voters thought Congress should develop a new plan (64 percent), rather than pass the Bush plan (20 percent). Today, they believe the same thing by a bigger margin: 73-16.
10. By 82-16, voters say Congress should wait on changing Social Security and educate the public, rather than make it a priority to change the system this year.
Sounds like good advice. We’ll see if Congress and, especially, George “I’m going to cut your benefits” Bush take it.