Polling on Social Security Reform

During the recent election cycle there was quite a flap over an ad MoveOn.org ran in the New York Times claiming that the Gallup organization’s polls leaned in favor of Republicans. While it ended up unclear as to whether those charges were proven true or not one thing was for sure, Gallup was one of many organizations polling the American public on their opinions regarding the Presidential race. If you did not like their results you could compare them to a multitude of other polls.

Today we are in the middle of a contest nearly as heated as that election yet very little attention is being paid to it by pollsters, until now. The President’s push for Social Security reform is in full swing so it would seem only fitting that the first organization to conduct a poll of the American public’s attitudes toward reform would be Gallup. From January 1-16, 2005 Gallup conducted telephone interviews with a randomly selected U.S. sample of 801 adult investors, aged 18 and older, with at least $10,000 of investable assets. The result is a report entitled, “Will Investors Support Social Security Reform?

I have not yet seen this poll used by a major news organization but it won’t be long before it is considering the results. But do not expect Drudge, The Washington Times, Rush, or Fox to repeat any of the following statistics.

  • Today, 87% of investors think reducing benefits for all Social Security recipients is a bad idea, up from 82% in December 1997.
  • Seventy percent of investors think gradually extending to 70 the minimum age at which recipients can receive Social Security benefits is a bad idea, compared with 73% who held this position seven years ago.
  • Fewer of today’s investors think the Social Security system needs major changes or a complete overhaul.
  • More of today’s non-retired investors think they’ll get most or all of their Social Security benefits, and more expect Social Security to be a major or minor source of their retirement income.
  • Today’s investors overwhelmingly oppose reducing Social Security benefits and extending the retirement age. And although the percentage of investors in favor of raising Social Security taxes has increased since 1997, this proposal is still rejected by a 2-to-1 margin today.

None of these results bode well for Dubya’s grand privitization plan. If Gallup has any bias it certainly did not show in these results. Now let’s see how the right tries to spin it.

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