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POLICY: Seniors continue to oppose new Medicare law. With UPDATE

Harvard’s Bob Blendon (a colleague of mine from my IFTF and Harris days), has new polling research out sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that two thirds of seniors view the Medicare Modernization Act unfavorably. Here’s the end implication:

Nearly three in ten seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare say the passage of the new law will have an effect on their vote for president, and an even higher share– nearly four in ten–say it will have an effect on their vote for Congress in November. More people say that the law will make them more likely to vote for John Kerry and the Democrats than for President George W. Bush and the Republicans.

And here are some more details, which should ensure a huge amount of ads highlighting the shortcomings of the law from the Democrats filling the airwaves of Florida and Pennsylvania.

Nearly three in ten people on Medicare (28%) say that the passage of the Medicare law will have an effect on their vote for president. More than four in ten of those who say the new law will affect their vote (44%, or 12% of people on Medicare overall) say it will make them more likely to vote for John Kerry, while 18% of this group (5% of people on Medicare overall) say it will make them more likely to vote for George Bush.

Nearly four in ten (38%) say the passage of the law will have an effect on their vote for Congress. About half of those who say the law will affect their vote (53%, or 20% of people on Medicare overall) say it will make them more likely to vote for a Democrat, while 21% of this group (8% of people on Medicare overall) say it will make them more likely to vote for a Republican. When it comes to handling Medicare prescription drug benefits, people on Medicare are nearly evenly divided on whether they trust John Kerry (39%) or President Bush (34%) more, while about one in ten (11%) say they trust neither or trust both equally. Not surprisingly, Republicans (76%) are more likely to say they trust President Bush more on the issue, while Democrats (67%) are more likely to say they trust John Kerry.

UPDATE: This survey has sure gotten alot of press, which must make Drew Altman and the crowd at Kaiser FF happy. It has two articles in the NY Times, plus it was a lead on NPR last night and might even have made the network news (I don’t tend to watch those but judging from the DTC drug ads many seniors do!) This NY Times article points out the obvious–the elderly are a vulnerable Republican voting block. They vote proportionally more than any other group, and they tend to vote on health care. Last time around white seniors voted 52 to 47 for Bush partly because he promised drug coverage (as did Gore) but partly because they were the group most appalled by blowjobs in the Oval Office. Remember Bush promising to restore "Honor and Decency" to the White House? Well I guess if that only means no blowjobs in the Oval Office then that’s Mission Accomplished. But when seniors have got something serious to vote about like the Iraq war and drug reimportation — both of which the elderly oppose–then "Honor and Decency" may not be enough to keep them happy.

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