Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Pride of Ownership

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) may be popular among his fellow Republicans, and some may even still call his kill-Medicare budget as “bold” and “courageous,” but the more they hear about it, most of the voters think it pretty much sucks.

A poll last month from Democracy Corps, a Democratic firm, inquired about Mr. Ryan’s overall approach to the budget (not just the Medicare provisions) in somewhat the same fashion. Initially, a 48-33 plurality of likely voters supported the plan. After being read a set of arguments both for and against it, however, a number of voters changed their mind and the plan was opposed 51-44.

Republican polling on the plan, according to Politico’s Glenn Thrush and Jake Sherman, shows the same pattern:

No matter how favorably pollsters with the Tarrance Group or other firms spun the bill in their pitch — casting it as the only path to saving the beloved health entitlement for seniors — the Ryan budget’s approval rating barely budged above the high 30s or its disapproval below 50 percent, according to a Republican operative familiar with the presentation.

If these poll results are right, they represent a lot of danger to Republicans because they suggest that voters’ assessments of the Medicare proposal are not yet fully “priced in” to their views of the parties more broadly. Right now, most people aren’t paying all that much attention to the budget debates or to domestic politics more generally. But they will tune in at some point between now and next November, and when they do they may find that the Republicans’ approach to the budget is not to their liking.

And the Republicans own this turkey lock, stock, and barrel. Nearly every member of the House voted for it.

The Democrats ran into the opposite problem with the healthcare bill last year. After all the GOP shrieking about death panels and socialized medicine, polling on the law was down. That is, until people found out what was in it; coverage for pre-existing conditions, portability, coverage for children up to age 26, and so on. Then the poll numbers turned to favorable, and as the law goes into effect, the more people are finding out that it’s what they want. The Republicans should be so lucky.