Politicians, be careful talking about shared sacrifice, pollster says (VIDEO)
Voters get nervous when candidates talk about sacrifice, says Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg. But at the same time, he says, voters tend to support changes that would shore up Social Security.
Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
It makes voters nervous when candidates talk about sacrifice, says Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg.
â€śSacrifice is an elite term,â€ť Mr. Greenberg said at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters on Friday. He conducts a variety of polls and focus groups for political and corporate clients as well as for Democracy Corps, a liberal polling and strategy organization he cofounded with James Carville. Greenberg served as Bill Clinton's pollster. Â
When asked at the breakfast whether voters would be willing to sacrifice to solve Americaâ€™s budget problems, Greenberg noted that they had seen â€śCEOs who drove down their companies at the trough, getting their bank bonus.â€ť Meanwhile, he said, the average workerâ€™s inflation-adjusted wages have declined.Â
â€śWhen they hear it is time for sacrifice, they are cautious about, Is there really going to be shared sacrifice; can we trust them?â€ť he said. Â
At the same time, sacrifice by the wealthy is a popular concept. â€śThere is one bipartisan issue in the country â€“ that rich people ought to pay more for addressing our problems,â€ť Greenberg said. â€śEighty percent of the country favors increased taxesâ€ť for the rich. Â
Still, he said, â€śpeople want to address the [budget] deficit because they think the deficit is endangering Social Security.â€ť So, despite being nervous when politicians talk about sacrifice, voters â€śare very much for ... a bipartisan deal on Social Security ... making changes that will make it secure.â€ť Â
In that context, he said, voters "will support changes that could include retirement age, could include a range of things."