Poll: Perry’s Social Security views will hurt more in general election

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

Rick Perry’s comments about Social Security are having little effect on his appeal to Republican voters thus far, but they have raised doubts about his viability in a general election against Obama, according to a USA Today poll/Gallup poll released Friday.

Republicans are evenly divided on Perry’s comments on Social Security, including the statement that it is a Ponzi scheme, with 19 percent saying it made them more likely to support him, and 19 percent saying they are now less likely to support him. Twenty-four percent say the comments make no difference.

Independents, however, are less enthused by the comments. Thirty percent say it makes them less likely to support Perry, while 12 percent say it makes them more likely to support him. Twenty-one percent say it makes no difference.

Overall, the verdict seems to still be out for most voters: Thirty-six percent of Republicans and 30 percent of independents say they don’t know enough to say what effect those comments have on whether or not they will vote for Perry. How Perry handles the issue, and the attacks from his opponents in the coming weeks will likely firm-up opinions.

In terms of Perry’s electability in the general election, voters are somewhat more concerned about the effects of those comments.

Thirty-seven percent of Republicans and 40 percent of independents say Perry’s views on Social Security will hurt his chances in the general election. Just 17 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of independents say it will help his chances.

A Rasmussen poll released Friday found that Obama would lead Perry in a head-to-head contest, 46 percent to 39 percent. The last time Rasmussen polled the two, in a poll released September 1, Perry led Obama 44 percent to 41 percent. Erick Erickson of RedState called it a “major collapse” on Twitter.

The September 1 poll was conducted before Perry’s comments on Social Security became a major issue.

As Perry continues to get flack for the Ponzi scheme comments, it’s worth noting that in a forthcoming book, Indiana Gov. (and, nearly, presidential candidate) Mitch Daniels also calls Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” according to the Washington Post.

Ultimately, most Republicans and independents — 55 percent and 53 percent, respectively — say that though Social Security needs reform, protecting the program is the most important thing. A smaller number — 41 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of independents — say the program is unsustainable and needs to be overhauled.

The Gallup poll is based on live telephone interviews conducted with 591 Republicans and 823 independents from September 13 through September 14. The results based on independents have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percents. The results for Republicans have a plus or minus 5 percent margin of error.