Picking Ryan shifted the conversation to Medicare, which hurt Romney in swing states.
You could see this coming from a hundred miles away.
But Republicans just couldn't help themselves.
Medicare working to boost Obama in swing states, poll finds
By Jon Cohen and Peyton M. Craighill
Thursday, September 27, 8:23 AM
Voters in three critical swing states broadly oppose the sweeping changes to Medicare proposed by Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and, by big margins, favor President Obama over Mitt Romney on the issue, according to new state polls by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Among seniors, the issue rivals the economy as a top voting issue, undercutting Romney’s appeal in Florida, Ohio and Virginia. Generally, the more voters focus on Medicare, the more likely they are to support the president’s bid for reelection.
A focus on Medicare as an issue also blunts potential fallout from Obama’s 2010 health-care reform law. The law remains controversial and is, according to an analysis of these new poll results, a drag on Obama’s reelection prospects. In Florida and Ohio, more voters have “strongly unfavorable” than “strongly favorable” impressions of the health law.
Sizable majorities of voters in each of these three states — as well as those across the country — say they prefer to keep Medicare as a defined benefits program, rather than moving to a system of fixed payments to seniors to buy coverage from private insurance or traditional Medicare. The “premium support” idea is one featured in the Republican budget proposed by Ryan and backed by Romney. The desire to keep the system as it is peaks at 65 percent in Florida, where more than one in five 2008 voters were age 65 and up.
Underlying support for not changing Medicare is the widespread belief that the system is working well for today’s seniors. In Florida, 70 percent of all voters say the system is working well — rising to 91 percent of the state’s seniors — and positive assessments of Medicare is nearly as high in the other states.
Asked whom they trust to deal with the Medicare program, Ohio voters side with Obama over Romney by a 19 percentage-point margin. The president has a 15-point advantage on the issue in Florida and a 13-point lead on it in Virginia. In a separate national poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation released Thursday, Obama’s 17-point lead over Romney on Medicare is larger than it has been across public polls all year.
The importance of Medicare as an issue also boosts Obama more directly: In the three Post-Kaiser state polls, voters who call Medicare an “extremely important” voting issue side with him over his challenger, 59 percent to 36 percent, while those seeing it as less than very important tilt toward Romney, 54 percent to 36 percent. Even among political independents, Obama support is higher among those putting higher priority on the issue than among those less apt to focus on it.
There is also a widely held public perception that changes are needed to keep Medicare sustainable for future generations. The problem for Republicans is that swelling budget deficits are not a sufficient motivator for voters. Across the three states, about three-quarters of voters say that Medicare cuts are not essential to deficit reduction.