A new poll released Tuesday lends credence to what Democrats — and even some Republicans — have warned about Paul Ryan being thrust onto the GOP ticket: Most Americans don’t much care for the Wisconsin Congressman’s sweeping proposal to reform Medicare.
The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP), conducted on behalf of the Daily Kos and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), shows that 45 percent of registered voters are opposed to Ryan’s proposed reforms to Medicare, while 36 percent support his proposal.
A star among Republicans and the tea party, Ryan’s entrance in the presidential race has rejuvenated a conservative electorate that has been slow to warm up to Mitt Romney.
The Romney camp has attempted to distance itself from the policy plank for which Ryan is best known — his sweeping budget proposal, which included a plan to supplant Medicare for seniors with a private voucher system, that passed the House of Representatives largely along party lines earlier this year — insisting that it’s the budget put forth by the candidate at the top of the ticket that matters the most. Tuesday’s poll suggests that might not please Republicans, 65 percent of whom support Ryan’s plan for Medicare.
But PPP delved deeper with its next question, shifting from general language (“Do you support or oppose Paul Ryan’s proposal for reforming Medicare?”) to a specific reference to the Medicare voucher program — causing support for Ryan’s Medicare plan to erode even further. Sixty-three percent of voters say that Medicare should not be replaced with vouchers to allow the elderly to buy private insurance, while only 19 percent support the voucher plan.
Worse for Ryan, only 29 percent of Republicans support the voucher plan. That’s higher than the 6 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of independents who support the plan, but it still represents the minority position in the GOP: 44 percent of Republicans say Medicare should not be replaced with a voucher system. Polls have consistently shown low support for Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare, underscoring the vulnerabilities in Romney’s vice presidential pick.
PPP conducted its survey August 16-19 using automated telephone interviews with 1,000 registered voters nationwide. Its margin of error is 3.1 percentage points.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.