Type to search

Early Warning: Ryan Medicare Plan Imperils Battleground Republicans


Early Warning: Ryan Medicare Plan Imperils Battleground Republicans


Even before Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan to the ticket, our Battleground polling results indicated an erosion of support for Republicans, largely based on Paul Ryan’s plans for Medicare and entitlements.  The advantage Republicans held among seniors in 2010 has been completely decimated. Across these Republican districts, incumbents now hold just a two-point lead with voters over age 64—a group Republicans won by 18 points in 2010.

Not surprisingly, the leading factor in this shift away from the GOP is Paul Ryan’s war on Medicare.  By a decisive six-point margin, voters in these districts now say they trust Democrats more than Republicans when it comes to Medicare. Among voters in the 27 most competitive Republican battleground seats, Democrats now hold an 11-point advantage on Medicare.

We are in the business of predictive politics, so you’ll forgive us if we pause for a moment to say… we warned them two years ago. Immediately following the 2010 election, we offered our analysis of the “shellacking” suffered by Democrats at the midterm ballot box.  We acknowledged the wounding outcome but — after careful analysis of our own poll results — we saw a broader and more important message in the midterm: Democrats did not lose because voters wanted to move in the direction that Paul Ryan and the House Republicans have since tried to take the country.

Back then we wrote:

There is no evidence that this was an affirmative vote for Republicans.  Their standing is no higher in this year’s post-election polls than it was in 2008 and 2006.  There is a lot of evidence that voters do not share Republicans’ priorities, particularly on Social Security and Medicare, and voters did not mandate a consuming focus on spending cuts and deficit reduction…[the results do] not translate into a mandate for Republicans to slash spending… and squander the next two years trying to repeal health care.

We do not yet know the outcome of the 2012 election and we’re certainly not calling it now—the Congressional ballot remains tight and there are still more than two months of tough campaigning to go.  But at this moment, our latest battleground survey in the 54 most vulnerable Republican-held districts—many of the same Republicans who “shellacked” us in 2010—shows that GOP incumbents are paying a heavy price for misreading the 2010 election results and overreaching on a conservative Paul Ryan agenda that voters did not mandate.

Republicans are beginning to glimpse the danger facing their candidates.  As Politico reported last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee is now encouraging candidates in these battleground districts to distance themselves from Ryan’s policies, particularly on Medicare and entitlements.  The NRCC’s memo is “a clear and immediate sign that Republicans knew Ryan could create trouble down-ballot for GOP candidates in tight Congressional races.”

All these findings have yet to be tested in a campaign context.  Democratic challengers remain unnamed and Republican incumbents have just started seriously campaigning to keep their jobs. But conventional wisdom notwithstanding, the trajectory of public opinion and current events do not bode well for House Republicans.



  1. suggarstalk August 22, 2012

    I watch incredulous as the GOP cheers while Ryan plays science lab with my generation’s earned quiet years, our security and tranquility in retirement.

  2. lincoln_b August 22, 2012

    Could you guys fix the graphic to include non-respondents? 24+10+13+35 does not make a full pie and this is not the RCCC…

    Otherwise, great news! Here’s to speaker Pelosi!

  3. kimbutgar August 23, 2012

    Those votes for Paul Ryan’s plan that they all voted for should be used by Dem’s as sledge hammers against their repug opponents. Just keep hammering away showing they voted for it!

  4. BX75250 August 23, 2012

    It’s OVER, James. Done. Rove has the 270 votes (states, counties, preacints & demographics). You DON’T. No, he can’t. Messina, Axelrod & Plouffe = Donna Brazile’s 2000. Go MITT! 🙂

    1. kennethranson August 23, 2012

      Does the foam around your mouth ever get on the keyboard?

      1. helzapoppn August 23, 2012

        At least he knows the GOP’s ultimate straw-boss is “Turd Blossom” Rove, not the empty suit at the top of the ticket.

  5. helzapoppn August 23, 2012

    Shorter 2010: Republicans, energized by the Tea Party and stoked by fear, turned out their base. Democrats, absurdly disappointed that simply electing Barack Obama didn’t solve all our problems, stayed home in droves to “send a message.”

    As James himself said back then, “staying home didn’t send a message; it sent Republicans” — to Capitol Hill, governor’s mansions and state legislatures.

  6. kentmueller August 24, 2012

    The House GOP votes on Paul Ryan’s budget is a tremendous cudgel to hammer every GOP incumbent but only if Democrats have the gumption to use it. His Medicare/Social Security proposals should wedge the elderly vote but only if the Democrats use it. Not everyone lacks empathy, some people care about future generations and not everyone wants to pull the ladder up behind them. The Obama team has shown an incredible capacity to pivot as needed, have a rapid-response ability second to none (in history), same with their GOTV ability. Here’s the caveat — right now they seem to be defaulting to classic Democratic Party poo-pooing of GOP attacks, in this case the Romney side not being countered on the “716 billion cut” to Medicare.
    The Democratic response should be: “Obama is indeed cutting over 710 billion in expenses from Medicare. Not one cent of that savings comes out of the pocket of any beneficiary, not now and not in the future. Over 500 billion of that savings, over […] years, is coming out of Medicare Advantage programs, pirvate insurance plans that now have a guaranteed profit margin funded by Medicare. In return, the insurance companies tap a pool of 30 million currently uninsured Americans who spread the risk and lower the cost of healthcare for all Americans. The rest of the savings comes from lowered payments to hospitals. What do they get in return? The immense costs of care to the indingent are now covered by the new program. This trermendous cost, often amounting to tens of millions of dollars for each hospital — a cost that has caused inner city hospitals to close just where they are most needed — is now guaranteed by the federal governemt. All of these points are win-win situations and the end result is the life of Medicare is extended ten years.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.