So following up on the post below, is it really true, as Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register says, that public support for private accounts has been gradually increasing?
The short answer is, no. Not even close. But there’s a bit more to the story.
PollingReport.com has most of the relevant data available here. And as you can see pretty clearly, across the board support for private accounts is lower now than it was when President Bush got started on this last December. In fact, in most cases, back then private accounts had at least plurality support when the question was asked, just private accounts, yes or no, without noting the loss of guaranteed benefits that inevitably go with them.
A couple of the polls, however, do show either a very small or even statistically insignificant bounce back for private accounts in the late spring.
For instance, here are the numbers over the last six months for the CBS poll’s generic, private accounts question.
May For 47 Against 47 N/O 6
April For 45 Against 49 N/O 6
February For 43 Against 51 N/O 6
January For 45 Against 50 N/O 5
November For 49 Against 45 N/O 6
That is the most pronounced example <$Ad$> of this pattern, while most of the others show continued deterioration. A few show entirely different patterns.
The ABC/WaPo poll, for instance, started 53% for and 44% against in December. It actually showed them even more popular (56% to 41%) in March. In late April, however, support was at 45% and opposition had bumped up to 51%.
It’s also worth pointing out that these numbers are always much lower when pollsters add any information about the benefit cuts that go along with private accounts or the debt necessary to incurr to finance them. And general questions about “the Bush plan” continue to poll worse and worse.
My own hunch is that the decreased prominence of the debate may have buoyed the numbers for private accounts because a quick look at all the numbers seems to show that the numbers were the worst when the topic was garnering the most attention.
But even this slight uptick showing up in some polls bears watching.