LUNCHTIME POLITICS: Debate Analysis – Americans and Social Security – Trump vs. Generic Democrat

Your Daily Polling Update for Friday, June 28, 2019

Same as yesterday

RON’S COMMENT: Today’s average is based on five polls, ranging from 41% (Reuters) to 50% (Rasmussen). Without these two extremes, it would be 43%…. President Trump’s disapproval rating averages 51% today (same as yesterday), which is 7 points higher than his approval rating.

By Ron Faucheux

Five comments on last night’s debate:
1. While Joe Biden presented himself well on some issues, he was too often backward looking and lacked force. He stumbled on the most important exchange of the night when Kamala Harris went after him on his opposition to busing and comments about segregationist senators. He seemed defensive and even a bit deflated during and after the exchange. The sensitivity of the topic (race) and how it underscored Biden’s biggest weakness (age) was a one-two punch––a hard hit right out of the gate.
2. Bernie Sanders was, well, Bernie Sanders. Now that other Democrats have embraced his ideas, he seems to have lost steam. Elizabeth Warren’s strong debate performance Wednesday was also bad news for him.
3. Last night, we saw a number of candidates at the bottom of the polls––such as Eric Swalwell and Kirsten Gillibrand––struggle for attention, even when it meant butting in and talking over others. When candidates do that, they better have something unique and powerful to say. In most cases, they didn’t, and became annoying. 
4. Remember: These two debates were only the first round. There are more to come, and that gives candidates who didn’t do particularly well this week a chance to come back and do better. It also means those who did do well could face a slump down the line. Next week’s polling will give us a good reading, a chance to see if the kaleidoscope really turned.
5. As in the first debate, the thrust of the discussion went well to the left of the political center. Democrats keep digging a hole for themselves in the general election.
Candidates who helped themselves to some degree last night:

• Kamala Harris: She was the only candidate who clearly helped herself. Post-debate punditry was gushing in praise of her. She had the energy and the most applause lines. Her prosecutorial experience showed through as she pressed her arguments and confronted Biden. Now, she has to harness the new attention she’s drawn and turn it into dollars and votes.

• Pete Buttigieg: He’s had his share of problems over the past 10 days due to the police shooting in South Bend. Though he took some criticism, his handling of the issue last night was forthright and demonstrated a willingness to take personal responsibility. Whether his performance was strong enough to put the issue to rest remains a big unanswered question. Nonetheless, he presented himself effectively on most matters and projected reasonableness––which may help him regain a stronger footing.

Among voters nationwide

If the election for president were held today with Donald Trump as the Republican running against a Democratic Party candidate, who would you vote for? 
Democratic candidate: 46% (-3 since last week)
Trump: 40% (-1 since last week)
It depends: 12%
RON’S COMMENT: The “generic” Democrat is now ahead by 6 points, down from 8 points last week. Note that this poll was taken before the Democratic debates this week.

Analysis by Frank Newport, Gallup

Excerpts from analysis:

  • Gallup research shows that older Americans are extraordinarily dependent on Social Security. Some 57% of retirees indicated in the April survey this year that Social Security is a “major” source of income in their retirement, eclipsing by far the second and third sources––retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs, and work-sponsored pension plans.
  • Taken as a whole, Americans consistently say that they want Social Security benefits retained with no cutsconfirming why Social Security is called the third rail of politics — the public simply does not want it touched. This result shows up in essentially every Social Security-related poll I have reviewed.
  • Pew Research Center recently reported  that “74 percent of Americans say Social Security benefits should not be reduced in any way,” and previous Pew research found that only 6% favored cutting government spending on Social Security. A Marist/NPR/PBS poll last year found that six in 10 Americans would prefer to reverse the 2017 tax bill rather than cut entitlement programs like Social Security if necessary to reduce the deficit. 
  • Gallup polling historically has found that Americans would rather raise Social Security taxes than reduce benefits. A 2014 survey conducted for the National Academy of Social Insurance found “77% of respondents … agree it is critical to preserve Social Security benefits for future generations, even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans.”
  • While they greatly value Social SecurityAmericans are certainly aware that the Social Security system’s future is parlous. An AP-NORC poll this year found that only 24% of Americans were confident that the Social Security system would be able to pay out at least the same benefits in five years that it is paying out now, while 39% said they were not confident this would happen. A Quinnipiac poll earlier this year showed that less than half of Americans, 45%, thought that the Social Security system would be able to pay “a benefit” when they were eligible to receive it (“a” benefit could in theory be as low as a dollar a month, of course). A Pew Research poll last December showed that 16% of Americans thought there would be enough money to provide benefits to older Americans when they were ready to retire, another 42% said there would have to be reduced benefits, and 42% said there would not be enough money in the system for them when they retired.

To see full analysis, click here

Presidential job rating average based on recent nationwide polls.
TRUMP VS. GENERIC DEMOCRAT: The Economist/YouGov, June 22-25 
When poll results add up to more than 100%, it is usually due to rounding.
L = Libertarian candidate 
G = Green Party candidate 
Ind = independent candidate
O = Other candidate(s)
D poll = conducted by or for organizations generally associated with Democrats.
R poll = conducted by or for organizations generally associated with Republicans.

Follow here to get the latest updates on the Lunchtime Politics.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.