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WSJ/NBC Poll: GOP Medicare Reform Not Driving Voters to Democrats

1:09 PM, Jun 16, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Wall Street Journal/NBC poll asks Americans whether they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who "supports changing Medicare for those under 55 to a system where people choose their insurance from a list of private health plans and the government pays a fixed amount, sometimes called a voucher, towards that cost."

Paul Ryan

The results: 38% are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports Ryan's Medicare reform, 37% are less likely to vote for that candidate, while 18% say it makes "no difference" in determining their vote, and 7% are not sure.

If that number stands, that's pretty great news for Republicans.

And one could even quibble with the question wording. It uses the much feared "voucher" word, which Ryan's reform technically isn't. And it simply says future beneficiaries could put their voucher toward "private health plans," potentially leaving the wrong impression that some seniors could be denied coverage in the open marketplace. The private plans would be regulated by the government and required to offer coverage to all beneficiaries. 

MSNBC does not mention these results in its write-up of the poll, but instead highlights the response to another polling question that indicates opposition to GOP Medicare reform has risen 9 points since April:  

Turning to Republicans’ proposal to overhaul Medicare — transforming the government-run health program into a system where future seniors receive a subsidy or voucher to help them purchase private insurance — 31 percent say it’s a bad idea, which is up nine points since April.

Just 22 percent say it’s a good idea, which is virtually unchanged from last month. And 45 percent say they have no opinion.

But it seems that, politically speaking, the far more relevant question is how Medicare reform moves votes, not whether voters think it's a good idea. While Ryan's Medicare reform is a wash, the poll shows that Obamacare is much more unpopular. By a 12-point margin (47% to 35%), respondents say they're more likely to vote for a candidate who favors repealing the "health care reform law." And 50% of respondents say they're less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the individual mandate, while 31% are more likely to vote for that candidate.

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