Social Security & The Future of the Democratic Party

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  • 1. Social Security and the Future of the Democratic Party
  • 2. Strategic Summary
    Social Security benefit cuts = bad policy and bad politics.
    Democrats have lost the advantage on the Social Security issue with voters. Over the last 15 years the Democratic advantage on which party will better handle Social Security has typically been 20 points or more. That lead has evaporated.
    Trust in President Obama on the Social Security issue is about half what it was for President Clinton. Obama’s support is one-third less than was President Bush’s, when compared with the opposition party in Congress. Obama’s support among independents is even lower.
    Democrats are losing senior voters (65+) by worrisome margins. They lost seniors by 21 percentage points in 2010. In 2006 Democrats and Republicans were even with seniors on Election Day: 49% to 49%. In 1996, Democrats won seniors by 7 percentage points. (National exit polls)
    Voters across all parties strongly oppose cutting Social Security benefits. 80% of the public opposes cuts to Social Security (70% strongly). Social Security is essentially a core value held by the public; politicians cut the program’s benefits at their peril.
    Bipartisan majorities strongly oppose raising the retirement age to 69. They also oppose cutting benefits for those making more than $60,000 (essentially means-testing) because they recognize that people pay into Social Security and benefits are tied to the amount you contribute.
    Bipartisan majorities support scrapping the payroll tax cap set at $106,800. They are comfortable requiring employers and employees to pay taxes on wages above that level.
    If Democrats support Social Security cuts, they could suffer in 2012. Republicans spent $71 million on Medicare ads in 2010 demonizing Democrats for reducing Medicare spending by $500 billion in the health care reform bill.
    2
  • 3. Democrats’ Strong Advantage over Republicans on Who Best Handles Social Security Is Gone In two previous low points – June 1995 and April 2002 – Democrats still had a 10 point advantage but Republicans have it now
    Democrats
    +22 D
    +15 D
    +24D
    +18 D
    +9 D
    +9 D
    +4D
    +3R
    Republicans
    # “When it comes to dealing with Social Security, which party do you think would do a better job--the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, or both about the same? If you think neither would do a good job, please just say so.”
    **Different Source and Slightly Different Question Wording: 2010 LRP Poll: “Who do you think will better handle the issue of Social Security: the Republicans in Congress, the Democrats in Congress, or are they both about the same?”
    3
    #NBC News/Wall Street Journal; telephone surveys of adults 18+ nationwide; **Lake Research Partners (November 2010)
  • 4. Which Party Do You Trust on Social Security?
    4
    Source: NBC News/Wall Street Journal and Lake Research Partners (Nov. 2010)
  • 5. Which Party Do You Trust on Social Security?(Among Independents)
    5
    Source: NBC News/Wall Street Journal and Lake Research Partners (Nov. 2010)
  • 6. Who Do You Trust to Do a Better Job with Social Security—The President or the Opposition Party?
    Who Do You Trust To Do a Better Job with Social Security?
    President Clinton
    President Obama
    Dems in Congress
    +24 D
    +13 D
    +18 D
    +19 D
    +9 D
    +7R
    Reps in Congress
    Reps in Congress
    President Bush
    #2005-2001: “Who do you trust to do a better job handling Social Security, George W. Bush or the Democrats in Congress?”
    #1995: “Who do you trust to do a better job protecting Social Security, Bill Clinton or the Republicans in Congress”
    **Different Source, and Question Wording: 2010 LRP Poll: “Who do you think will better handle the issue of Social Security: the Republicans in Congress, President Obama, or both about the same?”
    6
    #Source: ABC News/Washington Post Poll; telephone surveys of adults 18+ nationwide; **Lake Research Partners (November 2010)
  • 7. Trust in President’s Ability to Handle Social Security vs. Opposition Party in Congress?
    Source: ABC News/Washington Post Polls and Lake Research Partners Poll (November 2010)
    7
  • 8. Do You Trust the President or the Opposition Party on Social Security?
    8
    Source: ABC News/Washington Post Polls and Lake Research Partners Poll (November 2010)
  • 9. Democrats Losing Ground with Seniors
    Source: National Election Pool Exit Polls
  • 10. Large Majorities of Voters Across Party Lines Strongly Oppose Cutting Social Security Benefits
    A majority of voters across demographic and political subgroups oppose cutting Social Security benefits. Opposition is particularly strong among: women (74% strongly oppose), voters age 55 and older (80%), voters with a high school education or less (79%), independent women (77%)*, unmarried women (82%), and Northeasterners (77%) *Note small n size.
    Split sampled question
    Source: Lake Research Partners Poll (November 2010)
    10
  • 11. 7 in 10 Voters Oppose Raising the Retirement Age to 69 Years Old
    Source: Lake Research Partners Poll (November 2010)
    Split sampled question
    11
  • 12. Solid Majorities from All Political Parties Oppose Cutting Benefits for Those Earning More than $60,000 a Year: A Proxy for Opposition to Means Testing
    Source: Lake Research Partners Poll (November 2010)
    12
  • 13. Two-thirds of Voters Favor Scrapping the Payroll Tax Cap for Both Employers and Employees
    Split sampled questions
    Source: Lake Research Partners Poll (November 2010)
    13
  • 14. Voters in All Parties Support Scrapping the Cap Support Is Strongest for Requiring Employers and Employees to Pay
    Split sampled questions
    Source: Lake Research Partners Poll (November 2010)
    14
  • 15. Will Social Security be the Medicare Issue of the 2012 Election?
    In the 2010 election, Republican candidates and affiliated organizations spent $71.1 million on ads referencing Medicare.
    Republicans positioned themselves as the protectors of Medicare, as Democrats enacted $500 billion in Medicare savings into law during health care reform.
    The ads played a significant role in Republicans winning the seniors vote by 21%.
    What will Republicans do with the Social Security issue in 2012 if the Democrats support benefit cuts?
    Source: Evan Tracey Kantar Media | Intelligence, CMAG
    15
  • 16. 16
    Survey Methodology
    November 2010 Lake Research Partners Poll: Lake Research Partners designed and administered this pre-election and election night omnibus survey, which was conducted by phone using professional interviewers. The survey reached a total of 1,200 likely, registered voters nationwide. The sample consisted of 1,000 interviews among voters who were reached on landline phones and an oversample of 200 interviews among voters reached on cell phones. The survey was conducted October 31st through November 2nd, 2010.
    Telephone numbers for the base sample were drawn from a listed voter sample and the cell phone oversample was drawn from a listed sample. The sample was stratified geographically based on the proportion of likely voters in each region. Data were weighted to reflect the aggregated “national” Congressional vote as reported in the 2010 exit polls, as well as by gender, party identification, ideology, marital status, race, region, and probability of selection and phone usage.