The poll asked respondents to "choose which of two approaches they would prefer on the budget" without mentioning that the approaches were either the Ryan budget, or the budget from Sen. Patty Murray. Respondents were presented with "a plan that would slash $5 trillion in government spending, provide for no additional tax revenue and balance the budget within 10 years," versus "a proposal that would include $1 trillion in added tax revenue as well as $100 billion in infrastructure spending, and which would reduce the deficit without eradicating it," and found that 55 percent of the voters liked the "no taxes and balanced budget" Ryan proposal as compared to the 28 percent for the "tax and spend" Murray proposal.
What the poll left out is what would be cut and who would pay more in taxes. It's basically a referendum on whether people like the idea of a balanced budget and don't like the idea of tax hikes. When those specifics are presented in a poll, the outcome is vastly different. That's demonstrated in another poll released today that was actually done by GOP firm McLaughlin & Associates for the Republican group YG Network, which is affiliated with Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Here's what that poll says: 38 percent of respondents report that jobs and economy are their primary concern, as opposed to 20 percent who think the deficit and debt are most important. But more:
Voters are willing to consider some changes to the Medicare system—raising the eligibility age to 67 and means-testing benefits—but less than half are enthusiastic about changing the system immediately in order to balance the budget over a decade.Details matter, in political polling as in everything else. Ryan's rhetoric might sound good, but scratch the surface, get specific, and his actual policy vision is as unpopular as it's ever been.
Asked to choose one government program they would be willing to cut, only 14 percent of respondents named Social Security or Medicare. Just over three quarters—76 percent—picked military spending or other, unspecified “welfare programs.”