Poll: 57% say they'd be worse off under a Ryan-type plan than under Medicare

Politico’s leading with the fact that Ryan himself finished with the third-lowest favorable rating among top Republicans mentioned in the poll. That rating: Um, 23/26, with a clear majority of 51 percent not yet sure what to make of him, likely because they don’t know who he is. Even your friendly neighborhood eeyoreblogger isn’t hyperventilating over that.

But the Medicare numbers?

By a margin of 57 percent to 34 percent, poll respondents say they would be worse off if Ryan’s plan to convert Medicare to a system of subsidized private health coverage were adopted. Fifty-eight percent of independents, a critical voting bloc in recent elections, say they would be worse off…

Forty-seven percent of Republicans say they’d be better off under the plan, while 46 percent say they would be worse off, according to the poll. Just 29 percent of Democrats say they would be better off. Forty-six percent of Americans under 35 say they would be better off under the proposal, while 61 percent of those 35 and older say they’d be worse off. Sixty-three percent of those 55 and older say they would be worse off, while 26 percent say it would be better for them…

Respondents say they trust Obama’s party, the Democrats, more than Republicans to do a better job of dealing with Medicare, by 43 percent to 34 percent, with 23 percent not sure. Independents give Democrats a 14-percentage-point advantage over Republicans when it comes to handling Medicare.

The good news is that the public does support means-testing to cut Medicare costs. And it goes without saying that a single-sentence poll question about Ryan’s plan won’t capture all the selling points needed to properly inform respondents before gauging their opinion. (Although the same could be said of ObamaCare, which actually draws more support here than Ryan’s plan does.) This data, however, is supremely depressing, especially given rising awareness of the debt crisis:

The sample was 32D/27R/39I, which seems okay although knowing how the independents break down as “leaners” would help. Regardless, about the best you can say of the Ryan plan based on this data is that there are, in fact, more toxic positions that a politician can hold:

Note that those aren’t responses from the general sample but only from those who say they’ll definitely vote against The One or will consider voting against him. Ideally, in that group, you’d have a tilt in favor of a Ryan-type program; in reality, you’ve got 55 percent saying that supporting that sort of plan would make a candidate either a little or a lot less attractive. Not as bad as adultery, granted, but then adultery’s not an issue that Democrats can use to nationalize next year’s House elections. This is, potentially.

The grand flaw with any poll like this is that it presents a false choice: Asking “Do you prefer Ryan’s plan to Medicare?” is fun for pollsters, I’m sure, but it’s not what one would call, ahem, reality-based. The reality-based question is, “Do you prefer Ryan’s plan to whatever Medicare will be once it runs out of money?” Further to that point, via the Standard, here’s your must-see clip of the day — an exchange between GOP Rep. Peter Roskam and two Medicare trustees about the sort of cuts they’ll have to impose once the program goes bust in 2024. Grandma will get hit with a 10 percent reduction right off the bat and it’s all downhill from there, unless of course we’re willing to raise a little revenue to make up the difference. Are you guys up for that? Before you say yes, don’t forget — you’ll have plenty of other obligations to meet by then.