New Winston Group Survey for AAN Has Significant Findings on Medicare & Economy

| HealthCare | Dan Conston
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WASHINGTON – The American Action Network released the findings of an in-depth survey by the Winston Group on Americans’ perspectives on Medicare and the economy. Read the full memo from top pollster Dave Winston here.

Among the key findings:

Clearly, the economy overwhelms every other issue and offers both challenges and opportunities for both parties and their candidates. The Medicare results, however, were more surprising because they defied the conventional political wisdom that liberals hold a huge advantage on this issue. Instead, we found the issue has become a dead heat as the President’s healthcare plan continues to be unpopular, as awareness of its impact on Medicare grows, and as the President has been unable to craft a winning Medicare message. (Page 1)

The Romney/Ryan Medicare Message Has Neutralized the Issue

The second reason behind the Medicare issue shift appears to be the viability of the Romney/Ryan/Republican position and message on Medicare. The overall concern about the economy creates a center-right environment for discussion of this issue. While the Democratic Medicare messages should be at least 6 points higher than their opponents, a series of message tests in the survey show a dead heat or even slight advantage for Republicans particularly with seniors and Independents.

In these message tests, voters were asked to choose between:

The Republican candidate who says that President Obama cut $700 billion from Medicare for current seniors to fund his health care plan.


The Democrat candidate who says that the Romney-Ryan plan will end Medicare as we know it and turn Medicare into a voucher system.


The Republican candidate who says that President Obama’s healthcare
plan includes a tax on health insurance that will drive up the cost of your premiums.


The Democrat candidate who says that the Romney-Ryan plan will end Medicare as we know it and turn Medicare into a voucher system.


The Republican candidate who says that doctors are reducing the number of Medicare patients that they accept. This is proof that Medicare as it stands is unsustainable and has to be reformed, and the Republican plan will save the system for future generations while preserving benefits for those 55 and older.


The Democrat candidate who says that the Romney-Ryan plan will end Medicare as we know it and turn Medicare into a voucher system.


(Page 3)

The Unpopularity of the President’s Healthcare Plan

Voters were also asked whether they believe the statement "President Obama’s reforms have strengthened Medicare." 40% believed that statement, while 54% did not. Again, among Independents the results were even more negative, with 30%believing that statement and 61% not believing. Seniors did not believe the statement either (40-52).

Only 39% of voters believe the President’s claim that his $700 billion plus cut in the Medicare budget will not impact benefits; 54% do not. Seniors (36-56), and Independents (31-60) are even more skeptical of the President’s claims.
(Page 2)

Economic Focus on Medicare

This focus on the economy is seen when the electorate was asked which candidate they were more likely to vote for:

The candidate who says he or she will work to save the Medicare system.


The candidate who has a clear plan for economic growth and job creation.


(Page 1)

Economic Contrast

The Republican candidate who says the American people are asking "where are the
jobs." We need to bring jobs home by reducing taxes and regulation on small
businesses, and reducing government spending.


The Democratic candidate who says we need to keep moving forward and not go
back to the failed policies of the past that got us into this mess in the first place.


In this message contrast, the Republican leads 51-46. Among Independents that margin increases to 54-41. That is a significant shift when compared with the generic ballot where Democrats lead 49-48, but is closer to issue handling preferences, where Republicans have a 4 point advantage on the economy (49-45), although this specific message contrast even outperforms that.
(Page 4)