WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Voters in 12 key election swing states trust President Barack Obama over challenger Mitt Romney to address issues facing the Medicare system, 50% to 44%. Obama holds a slightly larger advantage on this issue among voters nationally.
The results are based on the Sept. 11-17, 2012, USA Today/Gallup Swing States poll. Interviewing was completed before the intensive news coverage of the video recording of Mitt Romney's "47%" comments, and so does not measure any possible impact of those statements. The swing-state survey includes voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Voters More Likely to Believe Obama Has a Plan, but Divided on Impact of Potential Changes
Swing-state voters are slightly more likely to believe Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have put forth a plan on Medicare (51%) than to believe that Romney and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan have (44%), although Ryan authored a budget passed by the House of Representatives that included significant changes to the Medicare program. Ryan's budget was never passed by the Senate, and its lack of legislative success may partly explain this awareness gap. On the other hand, Obama signed into law the highly visible Affordable Care Act in 2010, and it's possible some voters are referring to this piece of legislation when thinking about Obama's plan for Medicare.
Swing-state voters are not particularly optimistic, though, that either ticket will have a positive impact on Medicare. A third of voters say each would strengthen Medicare, another third say each would weaken it, and a similar percentage say each candidate's changes to Medicare would not make much difference.
By 53% to 44%, swing-state voters are more pessimistic than optimistic that Medicare will be able to provide health insurance to all Americans over the age of 65 in 20 years. Voters nationwide feel similarly, with 55% pessimistic and 43% optimistic.
Interestingly, it is young adults within the swing states who are most optimistic about Medicare's ability to provide benefits 20 years in the future. Older Americans are much more likely to doubt the program's long-term viability.
Finding ways to strengthen the Medicare program is an important issue for a significant portion of Americans. A July USA Today/Gallup poll found that 85% of Americans believe ensuring the long-term stability of Social Security and Medicare should be an extremely or very important priority for the next president. The candidate who can best convince voters that he will be able to secure Medicare's future may have a distinct advantage in what remains a close election.
By selecting Ryan as his running mate, Romney may have hoped to capitalize on Americans' concerns about Medicare by signaling that he supports a specific approach to addressing the program's long-term stability. However, it appears that Romney's campaign has more work to do to communicate Ryan's Medicare credentials to voters. Swing-state voters are more likely to believe Obama and Biden have a plan to fix Medicare than to credit Romney and Ryan with this, and they are no more likely to say Romney will strengthen Medicare.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 11-17, 2012, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,216 adults, aged 18 and older, living in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, selected using random-digit dial sampling. The data represent a subset of Gallup's national daily tracking survey for Sept. 11-17.
For results based on the total sample of "swing state" residents, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of error is ±4 percentage points.
For results based on the total sample of 1,096 registered voters in battleground states, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error is ±4 percentage points.
Comparison results from the national sample are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 16-17, 2012, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,066 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of error is ±4 percentage points.
For results based on the total sample of 954 national registered voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.