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New Polling Says Overwhelming Majority Wants Social Security Left Alone

Talking Points Memo, 5/22/11

By: Evan McMorris-Santoro | May 23, 2011, 8:44AM

Ask the voters and they'll tell you: Social Security cuts are off the table when it comes to cleaning up the budget mess in Washington.

Fresh polling from Ohio, Missouri, Montana and Minnesota published first by TPM show voters in the states overwhelmingly oppose any cuts to the Social Security entitlement program, even in the name of reducing the national debt. The coalition of progressive groups which sponsored the survey say the polls send a clear message to the Democratic Senate incumbents up for reelection in each state: cut Social Security and you'll incur the wrath of an angry electorate.

Public Policy Polling (D) conducted the polls, which were sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America, MoveOn.org and CREDO Action. All four groups are strongly opposed to making cuts to Social Security, which some -- including President Obama's debt commission -- have said are necessary to put the government's fiscal house in order for the future.

The PPP numbers, gathered between late April and last week, suggest the electorate is on the side of the progressives. The polls were conducted in the home states of Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (OH), Claire McCaskill (MO), John Tester (MT), and Amy Klobuchar (MN), all of whom are up for reelection in 2012.

The results (each poll surveyed more than a thousand people has a margin of error of about 3%):
 
In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose cutting spending on Social Security, which is the retirement program for the elderly?
 
Ohio: 16% support, 80% oppose
Missouri: 17% support, 76% oppose

Montana: 20% support, 76% oppose
Minnesota: 23% support, 72% oppose

National polls have shown a similar reticence to cut Social Security in the name of cleaning up the budget. New national numbers from the AP show "most Americans say they don't believe Medicare has to be cut to balance the federal budget, and ditto for Social Security."

PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor said her poll numbers show voters will not tolerate any cuts to Social Security -- and Democratic incumbents would be wise to take them off the table before election season heats up.

"This polling shows that Democratic incumbents facing re-election in 2012 will have serious problems if they vote to cut Social Security," Taylor said. "President Obama and all congressional Democrats should follow Harry Reid in saying that Social Security is off the table -- and then fight hard for popular tax increases on oil companies, Wall Street, and the rich."

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