But the message of bringing the federal government’s books into balance — the central idea behind the Wisconsin lawmaker’s 2014 spending plan — was quietly tested in 18 competitive House races in a late-February poll by the National Republican Congressional Committee. It was a winning argument across a broad swath of politically moderate — and nearly split — districts…

Instead of focusing on selling the conversion of Medicare into a premium support program, Republicans will incessantly pound home the theme of balancing the budget, GOP leaders say. When talking about the Democrats’ plan, Republicans criticize it for attempting to raise taxes and the fact that it doesn’t balance the budget. Republicans say they’re trying to seize the message “balanced” back from President Barack Obama, who said last week he doesn’t consider balancing the budget a top priority.

The internal party polling shows that Republicans think there’s massive political upside to talking about balancing the budget. In fact, Republican leadership think it’s the winning argument as the party again starts battling with Democrats over the nation’s fiscal future…

The poll showed that 45 percent of Democratic voters think “balancing … the federal budget would significantly increase economic growth and create millions of American jobs.” A sky-high 61 percent of independents and 76 percent of Republicans agree.