Ryan budget plan for entitlement reform polling best with ... seniors

Yesterday, we noted the USA Today/Gallup poll that showed Paul Ryan and Barack Obama in a statistical dead head on their competing budget plans, but today’s Gallup release is worth a second look.  According to their poll, Ryan does best in a surprising demographic, and that may end up making it more difficult to sell Obama’s “Mediscare!” campaign:

Ryan’s plan includes a complete restructuring of Medicare for people younger than 55. Pluralities of middle-aged Americans as well as those 65 and older prefer Ryan’s plan to Obama’s, while adults 18 to 29 show more support for Obama’s, 53% to 30%. These findings are in line with approval of Obama by age, more generally.

Only 18-29YO voters favor Obama’s plan, 53/30.  All other demographics show a six-point edge to Ryan, with approval edging up from 45% to 48%.  The finding on the seniors may actually not matter all that much, since Ryan’s plan offers some grandfathering (if you’ll pardon the expression) for current recipients.

The support among those 50-64 years of age, 47/41, is actually more telling.  After all, these are the people who have spent their lives paying into the system, and could be expected to be the most resentful of entitlement reform when they’re on the cusp of qualifying for them.  Yet they seem more comfortable with Ryan’s overhaul than with Obama’s cuts-and-status-quo approach.

Why?  Perhaps because they are used to making their own decisions for themselves.  A voucher plan puts them more in control of their own health care, rather than relying on the whim of a government board like the IPAB to decide when, how, and if they’ll get coverage for care.  It seems interesting that the age demographic with the least life experience in making their own decisions feels most comfortable with the top-down diktat approach.

These numbers give Ryan an edge in the debate, although a thin one to be sure.  Obama’s attempt to frighten seniors into panic at the idea of choice and self-management doesn’t seem to be working terribly well, and Ryan has a wide opening to argue for the American values of individual choice as a means for reform.