Democratic poll: Seniors have favorable view of Paul Ryan, but not his Medicare plan

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket

A new poll conducted by a Democratic polling firm shows that Americans over the age of 65 have a favorable impression of Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, although his proposal to overhaul Medicare is still viewed unfavorably.

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) on behalf of the liberal website Daily Kos and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), showed that 46 percent of seniors have a favorable view of Ryan compared to 40 percent who said they do not. Of all adults polled, 41 percent of the total sample said they had a favorable view of the Wisconsin congressman.

For more than a year, Democrats have seized on Ryan's proposal as House Budget Committee chairman to restructure Medicare, a popular federal program that offers health insurance to retirees. They argue that Ryan's reforms would hurt the demographic if made into law by raising the cost of medicine and limiting access to care. Ryan's proposal, which passed overwhelmingly in the Republican-controlled House but failed in the Democrat-majority Senate, would offer seniors a choice to purchase health insurance plans on a private market using federal subsidies. In response, Democrats have accused Ryan of wanting to "end Medicare as we know it" and one liberal group even ran political ads showing an actor who looks like Ryan pushing an elderly woman in a wheel chair off a cliff. But despite the efforts--at least according to this isolated poll--more seniors still hold a favorable opinion of him.

The same cannot be said, however, about Ryan's Medicare reform plan itself. Poll responders from almost every demographic, excluding Republicans, and those who self-identify as tea party supporters and conservatives, oppose Ryan's Medicare overhaul. Thirty-six percent of the entire sample said they support the plan, while 45 percent oppose it.

The poll surveyed 1,000 Americans nationwide by phone between August 16-19 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

A second survey, commissioned by the non-partisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, revealed a similar outcome when they asked about the Medicare plan. Conducted over the same period of time with 1,005 adults nationwide, the Pew survey found that 49 percent of responders opposed the proposal and 34 percent are in favor of it.