Evidence That Social Security Issue May Be Hurting Perry

It’s only one poll, and conservatives will dismiss it because it comes from a “Democratic” polling firm (although I’d note that said firm had a higher accuracy rate in 2010 than many media polls, and far higher than Rasmussen). However, Public Policy Polling is out with a new poll that shows the first signs that Rick Perry’s position on Social Security may be hurting him in the polls:

Americans strongly disagree with the statements Rick Perry made about Social Security in last week’s Republican Presidential debate, and Barack Obama has nearly doubled his lead over Perry nationally in the span of just 3 weeks.

Only 20% of voters agree with Perry that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme to 70% who dissent from that statement.  Democrats (4/87) and independents (20/69) are pretty universal in their disagreement with Perry and even Republicans (39/49) don’t stand with him on this one. When it comes to the possibility of actually ending Social Security voters are even more unanimous- 82% oppose taking that step to only 10% who would be supportive of it.  If Perry ends up as the Republican nominee and Democrats can effectively convince the electorate that he does want to end Social Security it could be an extremely damaging issue for him.

In fact it appears that Perry’s rhetoric on Social Security could already be causing him problems.  When PPP did a national poll three weeks ago Barack Obama led Perry by only 6 points at 49-43.  Now that gap has widened to 11 points at 52-41.  The main movement has come with Democratic voters.  On the previous poll Obama had only a 68 point lead with the party base at 81-13 but now it’s 80 points at 89-9.  We know there are a lot of Democratic voters disenchanted with Obama right now but if the GOP puts forward someone like Perry who’s willing to go after one of the Holy Grails of the party’s orthodoxy like Social Security it might scare those voters back into the fold.

In addition to his horse race numbers taking a wrong turn Perry’s favorability numbers are worse than they were 3 weeks ago as well.  Only 30% of voters have a positive opinion of him to 50% with a negative one.  That’s down from an already not so stellar 33/47 spread.  Republicans certainly like him but with independents (23/51) and Democrats (9/74) favor is virtually nonexistent.

Like I said, it’s one poll but this is something worth keeping an eye on over the next several months.


FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, Social Security, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Terrye says:

    On line polls are notoriously unreliable, but the Street ran one yesterday and if I remember correctly 73% did not consider Social Security a ponzi scheme and 27%.

    The economy is too bad and too many people are having too much difficulty just making ends meet for someone to be going after this program now. It would be difficult any time, but right now people are in even less of a mood to hear it.

  2. Polaris says:

    PPP (D) is an unreliable poll except for one week or so prior to any election. It’s also openly partisan so yes, I discount it and justifiably so on that basis alone. (You won’t see me cite Megellan polls either for the same reason but opposite partisan direction).