Whit Ayres, March 5

Whit Ayres’ comments on Republican economic messages in Politico:

That doesn’t necessarily mean they need to nationalize the election with one agenda, like House Republicans’ “Contract With America” in 1994 or their “Pledge to America” in 2010. But Republican candidates should at least have their own economic alternatives, said GOP pollster Whit Ayres: “What would you do differently? What’s your plan?”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, Time, January 7

Whit Ayres’ comments for Time on the Republican approach to addressing poverty:

While both parties bemoan many of the same symptoms, they hardly agree on the disease, let alone the medicine. Democrats focus on income inequality: the gap between the nation’s highest and lowest earners is at its greatest level since the Roaring Twenties. Republicans, on the other hand, emphasize social mobility: the declining ease with which Americans can rise from the middle class to the top wage bracket. That makes the coming push less about policy as it is about election-year politics.

“While they may be using some of the same words, their perspectives are entirely different,” GOP pollster Whit Ayers said of the divide between Democrats and Republicans on the issue. “And that leads to fundamentally different conclusions.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, May 20

Jon McHenry’s comments in the Washington Post regarding Congress and the economy:

“When you’ve got Republicans saying government is doing too much and needs to get out of the way of business, and Democrats saying government needs to step in and do more to help people out, it becomes pretty hard to bridge that economic gap,” said Jon McHenry, vice president of North Star Opinion Research, a Republican firm that polls for clients including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 6

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post regarding Republican messaging on fiscal issues:

“It’s challenging to talk about budgets in a way that resonates with average folks,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

Although most Americans believe that deficits and debt represent a threat to the country’s future, Ayres added, “the challenge is figuring out how to say that in a way that is palatable. Fundamentally, prosperity beats austerity as a message.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 2

Whit Ayres’ comments on the unemployment report in USA Today:

But the Labor Department report that once was seen as a potential “October surprise” — that is, the sort of late-breaking news that could dramatically shift votes — is instead one more sign that a slow but relatively steady economic recovery is continuing.

“It’s not too late to matter, particular if it’s a marked departure in one direction or the other than what we’ve seen before,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres said before the report was released. “If we think back to 1980, we thought the election was set, and then we had the one-year anniversary of the Iranian hostage crisis, which reminded everyone of their frustration” with that crisis. “If we have a bad jobs report, it will remind everyone of their enormous frustration with Obama’s inability to get this economy going.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, October 21

Jon McHenry’s comments on the third presidential debate focused on foreign policy:

“The economy is the first, second and third most important issue for virtually everybody,” says Republican pollster Jon McHenry. “But foreign policy is something voters care about at the presidential level.”

For the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 5

Whit Ayres’ comments on China and the economy, on the Bloomberg website:

“There is obviously a widespread concern that China is an increasingly important and too often unfair competitor,” said Whit Ayers, a Republican pollster who conducted a survey on China last year for the Alliance of American Manufacturing. “China is now an integral part of any debate on the economy.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 9 (Washington Post)

Whit Ayres’s comments on the economy:

“What matters a lot more than the specific unemployment rate is what voters feel in their communities and in the lives of their families,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. “Focus groups demonstrate that while people feel the economy is marginally better, that it is still very weak, and that the president’s policies have done little or nothing to generate the kind of growth that we have historically been used to coming out of a recession.”

For the full article, please click here.

The Right Way To Talk About Entitlements

Published on March 30, 2011 | Resurgent Republic | Jon McHenry

Much of our most recent survey focused on budget issues.  Two questions specifically touched on entitlements, and together make a powerful point about how conservatives can talk about entitlements while maintaining support among a majority of voters.

The first question puts the conservative discussion of entitlements in the context of budget deficits:

Congressman A says we should not balance the budget on the backs of our seniors and the poor.  We need to cut back federal spending, but Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid should be off limits. 

Congressman B says we will never get the deficit under control without dealing with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,  because those three programs make up more than half of all federal domestic spending.

In this framing, voters agree with Congressman A by a 53 to 41 percent margin.  Independents agree with Congressman A by a similar margin, 51 to 43 percent, with Democrats agreeing by a 71 to 23 percent margin.  Republicans agree with Congressman B by a 59 to 35 percent margin.  Women agree with Congressman A by a 60 to 32 percent margin while men agree with Congressman B by a 51 to 45 percent margin.

The second question puts the conservative discussion of entitlements in the context of preserving the programs for the future:

Congressman A says Social Security will not face budget problems until 2037, so we need to focus our attention on our immediate budget problems and leave Social Security alone.  Take Social Security off the table.   

Congressman B says Social Security is in real trouble because of so many retiring baby boomers. We can save Social Security with minor benefit adjustments for people age 55 and under, and we should do that now rather than wait until the program faces a crisis.

In this context, voters overall agree with reform-minded conservatives by a 54 to 39 percent margin, with the same 54 to 39 percent margin seen among Independents.  Republicans agree by a 70 to 23 percent margin while Democrats agree with Congressman A by a 51 to 40 percent margin.  Where there is a split by gender on the first framing of reform, both men (by a 59 to 34 percent margin) and women (by a 50 to 42 percent margin) agree with Congressman B in this context.

American voters are open to entitlement reform, but the emphasis needs to be on preserving the programs for the future rather than addressing current deficits.

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