Sunday, September 24, 2000

Pollsters: Social Security Wins Votes for Gore But Does Not Decide Race, Aging News Alert

Pollsters: Social Security Wins Votes for Gore But Does Not Decide Race
By Pamela Appea
Aging News Alert, Social Security
September 14, 2000
Copyright 2000 by Community Development Publications

Al Gore won votes after emphasizing Social Security in the campaign’s last few weeks, but the issue did not decide the election, says Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster with Public Opinion Strategies, an Alexandria, Va.-based research firm.

In a joint forum sponsored by the Health Insurance Assn. of America, McInturff and Mellman, a Washington-based Democratic pollster, presented results from an October telephone survey among 800 likely voters and a second Election Day voter survey with another group of 800.

When asked to “put aside character or other personal issues,” 24% of people in the November sample said Social Security was the most important issue, up 9 percentage points from the October survey.

Medicare ranked as the most important issue for 7% of the November group and 6% in the October survey. Prescription-drug coverage garnered 5% in November and 4% in October.

“Voters tells us while health-care related issues are important, they are not the most important issue in the election,” says McInturff.

Mellmann says Gore finished strong. But Democrats overall became more timid, a little “shy-er” to promote their health-care plans, after Republicans attacked the plans.

McInturff says he doesn’t think Social Security, or Gore’s prescription drug plan was a decisive issue for voters.

But health care’s importance has grown. Eight years ago, 6% of voters thought health care was a critical issue, Mellman says. That rose to 21% by this year.

About 62% of voters in the 2000 post-election sample credit Gore for proposing an effective prescription-drug plan, while 51% of people say [President] George [W.] Bush had an effective prescription-drug plan.

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