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Daily Breakdown: Obama Plays Defense On Medicare

This was hardly an eventful Friday, with only Rasmussen and Gallup offering surveys to cap-off the post-Ryan week.


Obama has gained 5 points in Rasmussen over the last few days, but that should be considered static until proven otherwise. Most of this week’s polling didn’t show evidence of movement toward Obama, and the Gallup poll didn’t either, so there’s not much cause to think that Obama has suddenly made big strides. Of course, it would be quite impressive if Obama could sustain a lead in a likely voter survey with a historic GOP-lean.

At this point, it’s pretty clear that the Ryan pick didn’t result in much of a boost for Romney, so it’s time to wonder whether that means anything. One interpretation holds that Ryan shouldn’t have been expected to produce a bump, since he wasn’t well known nationally. That’s a legitimate explanation. But I also take Romney’s flat-line week as a sign that there isn’t a mass of latent Romney voters on the edge of tipping over to his side. 


Odds and Ends

--Six days after Paul Ryan was selected, the Obama campaign aired their first advertisement about Medicare, and it wasn’t exactly a “Medicascare.” Instead, the Obama ad was fundamentally defensive; relying on the authoritative AARP to reassure voters that Obama has strengthened Medicare, while transitioning to a sober-minded take on the Ryan plan. Perhaps the Obama campaign is slow-playing the Medicare card, maybe in part because free media is still driving Medicare discussions, but it might also be the case that analysts—including this one—have misjudged the importance of Medicare to Obama’s post-Ryan strategy. The Affordable Care Act complicates attacks on Medicare, and Obama doesn’t exactly have the resources to drown out Romney's assertion that Obama cut Medicare. Other elements of the Romney/Ryan vision are easier to attack, like the basic frame that they support cutting programs for the middle class to provide tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Only time will tell whether Medicare plays a preeminent role in 2012. 

--Public Policy Polling says they’re finding a tight race in Wisconsin—that seems to confirm that the Badger State is now a true battleground, as was suggested yesterday by CNN and Rasmussen.