More WSJ poll: Huge majorities reject significant cuts to entitlements — but some reforms are okay

posted at 9:07 pm on March 2, 2011 by Allahpundit

I promised you an update on this poll in the post about support for collective bargaining once the crosstabs were released. Here you go: The sample is 39D/34R/19I, including leaners, and 14 percent of respondents are union members. As Ed noted a few days ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 11.9 percent of workers are unionized, so it’s a slight oversample but within the margin of error. On the other hand, Ed pointed out that public employees comprise 17 percent of the work force; in the Journal poll, 14 percent of respondents are public employees, i.e. a slight undersample. I don’t think the collective bargaining polling data is wildly skewed.

As for the rest of the poll, the Journal is touting the following as good news for Mitch Daniels. Proof at last that the public supports a “truce” on social issues?

Huckabee leads the field as the first choice of 25 percent of Republicans (Romney is second at 21, Gingrich third at 13, and Palin fourth at 12, although she finishes second as a second choice) so there’s still some support out there for an unapologetic social con, but yeah, priorities in this election lay elsewhere. Even so — is this poll really good news for Mitch Daniels, the guy who’s ready to fight the “red menace” of our federal debt?

Read it and weep, my friends:

Seventy-six percent say Medicare cuts are at least mostly unacceptable and 77 percent say the same of Social Security — including a clear majority who say it’s totally unacceptable. Here’s a related result, asking not whether cuts are acceptable but merely whether they’re necessary. Remember, entitlement spending is by far the biggest driver of America’s astronomical debt:

The silver lining is that majorities are willing to accept various tweaks to entitlements. Cuts are a no-go, but 62 percent say they’d find it at least mostly acceptable to reduce Medicare and Social Security benefits for wealthier retirees and 56 percent would find it mostly acceptable to gradually raise the retirement age for S.S. to 69 by the year 2075. In fact, 44 percent would even find a voucher system for Medicare “mostly acceptable,” an encouraging sign insofar as it gives the Ryans, Christies, and Danielses of the world a political foothold to push reforms aggressively. The immediate problem is that there’s even more support for tax hikes than there is for entitlement reform: 81 percent find a surtax on millionaires mostly acceptable and 68 percent say the same of phasing out the Bush tax cuts for “wealthy” families. One of the left’s big complaints about the Deficit Commission proposal is that it was heavy on cuts and light on tax hikes. This poll will encourage them to escalate that argument.

One last data point: A plurality of respondents say they’ll probably vote for Obama over a Republican challenger (45/40) and a majority say they support how he’s handling the Egyptian and broader Middle East uprisings (55/30). So long as he doesn’t do or say anything to further involve America in the region, he’s probably safe. Which means that no-fly zone is less likely than ever.


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Crash course on internet polling…

(and I didn’t read on the linked WSJ article that the poll was done by telephone, so I assume “NBC/WSJ” etc. as to polling handler conducted the “poll” online…)
Lourdes on March 3, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Hmmmm…I guess you didn’t read the article.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll was based on nationwide telephone interviews of 1,000 adults, including a sample of 200 adults who only use a cell phone. It was conducted from February 24-28, 2011, by the polling organizations of Peter D. Hart and Bill McInturff. The sample was drawn in the following manner: Individuals were selected proportionate to the nation’s population in accordance with a probability sample design that gives all landline telephone numbers, listed and unlisted, an equal chance to be included. Registered voters age 18 or over were selected by a systematic procedure to provide a balance of respondents by sex. The cell phone sample was drawn from a list of cell phone users nationally, and respondents were screened to ensure that their cell phone is their only phone. The data’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Sample tolerances for subgroups are larger.

Deanna on March 3, 2011 at 11:46 PM

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