Even as the battle over Mitt Romney’s tenure at the head of a private-equity firm rages on, a group of Democratic pollsters say they’ve identified another potent line of attack for President Obama and other Democrats to use against the presidential candidate and his fellow Republicans.
Leaders from the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner polling organization briefed reporters Monday about the results of their most recent survey and focus groups, which find deep opposition to the conservative federal budget plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and subsequently embraced by Romney in his White House bid.
At the outset, the Ryan budget (described in Ryan’s own language) barely garners majority support, the pollsters say. And voters raise serious doubts when they hear about proposed cuts—particularly to Medicare, education, and children of the working poor, they add.
Obama’s lead against Romney more than doubles when the election is framed as a choice between the two candidates’ positions on the Ryan budget– particularly its impact on the most vulnerable. The president makes significant gains among key groups, including independents and voters in what pollster Stanley Greenberg terms “the Rising American Electorate”: the unmarried women, youth, and minority voters who drove Obama to victory in 2008.
“This is an important new finding; highlighting the Ryan budget’s impact on the most vulnerable seriously weakens Romney,” the pollsters say in a memo outlining their survey results.
- The Ryan budget is a big target. Even described using Ryan’s own words, support for the budget barely gets majority support.
- Mitt Romney’s embrace of the Ryan budget erodes his support in a close race. Romney’s full-fledged support of the Ryan budget opens him up to attacks on big, decisive issues.
- Voters respond equally to three big critiques of the Ryan budget. Voters reject Ryan’s plan to allow the refundable child tax credit to expire, which would push the families of 2 million children back into poverty. Second, voters are deeply concerned about Ryan’s plan for Medicare and health care spending for seniors. Finally, voters strongly disapprove of cuts to education spending. These three facts about the Ryan budget are the most concerning to voters, especially unmarried women and Hispanic voters.
- Concern for the most vulnerable has a ballot box impact. After hearing balanced facts about the Ryan budget and messages on both sides, we asked voters to weigh the two presidential candidates based on their positions on the Ryan budget and its impact on the most vulnerable. Not only does focusing on the most vulnerable not hurt the president, it helps him – Obama’s margin widens to 9 points, with his vote climbing above 50 percent.
The pollsters say their results are based on a national survey of 1,000 likely 2012 voters conducted June 23-28, with an overall margin of error= +/- 3.1 percentage points at 95% confidence. They add that their results also are based on an intentional oversample of 200 self-identified Hispanic voters. These interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish language, depending on the preference of the respondent. Lastly, the results are based on two focus groups conducted among college and non-college swing women in Columbus, Ohio on June 4.