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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Serious Attack on Ryan Budget Takes Toll on Mitt Romney

The following Strategy and Research paper excerpt is cross-posted from Democracy Corps.
The most recent survey and focus groups by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps reveal deep opposition to the Ryan budget- and its potential to damage Mitt Romney’s candidacy if he embraces it in the coming campaign. At the outset, the Ryan budget (described in Ryan’s actual language) barely garners majority support. And voters raise serious doubts when they hear about proposed cuts–particularly to Medicare, education, and children of the working poor.
President Obama’s lead against Romney more than doubles when the election is framed as a choice between the two candidates’ positions on the Ryan budget- particularly its impact on the most vulnerable. The President makes significant gains among key groups, including independents and voters in the Rising American Electorate (the unmarried women, youth, and minority voters who drove Obama to victory in 2008). This is an important new finding; highlighting the Ryan budget’s impact on the most vulnerable seriously weakens Romney.
Key Findings:

The Ryan budget is a big target. Even described using Ryan’s own words, support for the budget barely gets majority support.
Mitt Romney’s embrace of the Ryan budget erodes his support in a close race. Romney’s full-fledged support of the Ryan budget opens him up to attacks on big, decisive issues.
Voters respond equally to three big critiques of the Ryan budget. Voters reject Ryan’s plan to allow the refundable child tax credit to expire, which would push the families of 2 million children back into poverty. Second, voters are deeply concerned about Ryan’s plan for Medicare and health care spending for seniors. Finally, voters strongly disapprove of cuts to education spending. These three facts about the Ryan budget are the most concerning to voters, especially unmarried women and Hispanic voters.
Concern for the most vulnerable has a ballot box impact. After hearing balanced facts about the Ryan budget and messages on both sides, we asked voters to weigh the two Presidential candidates based on their positions on the Ryan budget and its impact on the most vulnerable. Not only does focusing on the most vulnerable not hurt the President, it helps him – Obama’s margin widens to 9 points, with his vote climbing above 50 percent.

As a result, the upcoming debate about whether to extend the refundable child tax credit is an opportunity for those who support it. This memo outlines the strongest attacks against allowing the benefit to expire and the strongest messages to support it.
A more detailed analysis of these results can be found at Democracy Corps.

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