With only six-weeks remaining in the 2012 Presidential Campaign, President Obama holds a significant lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney on the important question of Medicare, and the solvency of the program for future generations.
In a USA Today/Gallup Swing States Poll conducted between September 11-17 in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa and New Mexico, the Gallup Daily Tracking Survey posed several questions about Medicare to a random sampling of 1,216 adults over age 18. It should be noted that the poll was conducted before Mitt Romney’s now infamous ‘secret video’ remarks, essentially writing off 47% of Americans, a video that has now gone viral over the past week and done nothing to counter the image of Romney as ‘out-of-touch’ with average Americans.
Also of note, is that the poll sample included at least five swing states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and New Mexico) in which President Obama has opened up sizable leads in more recent polling. Nevertheless, in Florida with its large senior population, The Romney/Ryan ticket’s inability to connect on the Medicare issue may prove fatal to their election chances; with early voting already underway in half of America, it may be too late for the Republican candidates to make their case.
The poll, released today, reflects that on the question, “Which presidential candidate do you trust more to address the issues facing the Medicare system,” Obama leads Romney 50% – 44%, while nationally the lead is 51% – 43%. As revealed in the Gallup report:
Finding ways to strengthen the Medicare program is an important issue for a significant portion of Americans. A July USA Today/Gallup poll found that 85% of Americans believe ensuring the long-term stability of Social Security and Medicare should be an extremely or very important priority for the next president. The candidate who can best convince voters that he will be able to secure Medicare’s future may have a distinct advantage in what remains a close election.
By selecting Ryan as his running mate, Romney may have hoped to capitalize on Americans’ concerns about Medicare by signaling that he supports a specific approach to addressing the program’s long-term stability. However, it appears that Romney’s campaign has more work to do to communicate Ryan’s Medicare credentials to voters. Swing-state voters are more likely to believe Obama and Biden have a plan to fix Medicare than to credit Romney and Ryan with this, and they are no more likely to say Romney will strengthen Medicare.
As you may recall, then newly-minted Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, author of the infamous Ryan Budget, which would ‘voucherize Medicare,’ remarked in several early campaign stump speeches that, “We welcome this debate and, we’re going to win this debate.” Alas, they haven’t. In fact, their message has been muddled and confused and has simply failed to resonate with elderly voters, as noted in the openly hostile reception Ryan got at the recent AARP Convention in New Orleans. And, last night, in his “60 Minutes” interview on CBS, Mitt Romney didn’t do their cause any favors, failing to offer a defense on how they will preserve Medicare. In fact, on the broader issue of healthcare for all Americans,he revisited a tired, old Republican theme, fumbling on the message; telling interviewer, Scott Pelley:
Pelley: Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don’t have it today?
Romney: Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance, people — we — if someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.
Pelley: That’s the most expensive way to do it.
Romney: Well the–
Pelley: In an emergency room.
So, with six-weeks to go and voters already going to the polls in half the nation, the Romney/Ryan Campaign has failed to connect on Medicare or healthcare. They are losing the argument and—by nearly all recent polling—they are losing the game.
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