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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Polling Private Ryan

A lot of conservatives are jubilant about a Gallup Poll finding that Americans are evenly split on whether they support the “the Republican plan put forth by Congressman Paul Ryan” or “the Democratic plan put forth by President Obama” when it comes to a long-term deficit reduction measure. And some are particularly happy that a plurality of respondents aged 50 and over prefer Ryan to Obama. Hey, maybe seniors and near-seniors understand they’ll be “grandfathered” by Ryan’s Medicare proposals and don’t give a damn about anyone else! How exciting!
Or maybe not. As Jon Walker of Firedoglake tartly notes, the Gallup poll provides no description whatsoever of the “Ryan” or “Obama” plans, but does helpfully provide a party identification (useful to the vast numbers of non-Beltway-focused Americans who probably can’t tell Paul Ryan from Private Ryan at this point). The age breakouts in this poll nicely reflect the inverse relationship that has existed since before the 2008 elections between age and support for the president and the Democratic Party.
Perhaps the grandfathering in Ryan’s plan will reassure some seniors, but it’s worth remembering that it didn’t work for George W. Bush in 2005 when he proposed a Social Security privatization scheme with precisely the same buy-off-the-old-folks feature. For now, all we really know is that the Medicare cuts in Ryan’s plan poll terribly across the age groups and even partisan and ideological groupings. As always, Republicans do better in measurements of abstract support for spending cuts, and worse when they have to get specific. The Gallup poll probably represents the absolute high point in support for Private–er, I mean Privatizing–Ryan.

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