Romney’s Social Security strategy vs. Perry not resonating with Republicans in new pollby George Bennett | September 22nd, 2011
ORLANDO — Fresh polling data from the retiree bastion of Florida suggests that hammering Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry on Social Security is a good strategy for GOP rival Mitt Romney — if they were running in a general election instead of a Republican presidential primary.
Romney has criticized Perry’s stance on Social Security in the last two Republican debates and continued to blast the Texan on the issue Wednesday on the eve of tonight’s nationally televised GOP debate here.
A Quinnipiac University poll released this morning shows Perry leading Romney among Florida GOP voters by a 28-to-22 percent margin. The poll shows Perry’s Social Security views aren’t popular with Floridians as a whole, but aren’t hurting him with Republicans.
Perry’s characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” for younger workers is called unfair by 58 percent of all Floridians, with only 33 percent calling it fair.
Among Republicans, however, 52 percent say “Ponzi scheme” is a fair way to describe Social Security and its long-term financing issues.
Perry’s suggestion in TV interviews last year that Social Security could be handled by states rather than the federal government is unpopular in Florida, with 65 percent saying they’d prefer the feds to continue running the retirement program and only 24 percent favoring state-by-state programs.
Republicans, too, disagree with the idea of having states assume responsibility for Social Security. But the margin is less dramatic among GOP voters, with 49 percent disliking it and 38 percent favoring state-by-state retirement programs.
Republican voters aren’t buying Romney’s suggestion that Perry isn’t committed to preserving Social Security. Asked if they think Perry wants to fix Social Security or end it, 60 percent of Florida Republicans say they believe Perry wants to fix the program, with only 14 percent saying they think he wants to end it.
Among all Floridians, 35 percent say they think Perry wants to fix Social Security, with 37 percent believing he wants to dismantle it and 28 percent saying they aren’t sure.
Both Perry and Romney say Social Security should be preserved for current recipients and those approaching retirement age. As the program is now structured, its trustees project Social Security won’t be able to pay full benefits for retirees beginning in about 25 years.
Romney said Wednesday he favors gradually raising the eligibility age for younger workers and slowing the growth of inflationary benefit increases for upper-income retirees in the future.
Perry had pledged to “work with citizens, experts and elected leaders to fix Social Security financing for future generations.”
By a 52-to-42 percent margin, the new Quinnipiac poll finds Floridians oppose raising the retirement age for future Social Security recipients. Republicans, however, support the idea by a 53-to-43 percent margin.
The idea of “reducing Social Security benefits for future retirees to help bring more money into the Social Security system” is opposed by 66 percent of all state voters and 55 percent of Republicans.
Quinnipiac’s poll of 1,007 registered Florida voters was taken Sept. 14-19 and has a 3.1 percent margin of error. The Republican sample has a 5.1 percent margin of error.