Pew is out with an opinion survey about Medicare. Among others things, Pew asked people whether deficit reduction or preserving Medicare and Social Security benefits should have the higher priority. Republicans answer that question very differently depending on their income level:
Only Republicans making over $75k per year think deficit reduction should have the higher priority. Among Republicans making between $30k-$75k, 53 percent think preserving entitlements is more important with only 38 percent thinking deficit reduction is. Finally, among the poorest Republicans, a near super-majority — 62 percent — think preserving entitlement benefits is more important.
These survey results are made more interesting when combined with another Pew poll from February of this year. Pew asked GOP voters whether the government is not doing enough to help the poor, doing too much, or doing the right amount. The same class divide presented itself then as well:
Contrary to popular rhetoric, poor Republicans don’t seem to completely miscalculate their economic self-interest. When asked directly, they prefer the preservation of entitlement programs and more support for the poor, even over the dominant GOP policy priorities. This would suggest that confusion over economic self-interest is not what motivates poorer Republicans to vote GOP. They do not — as Steinbeck famously remarked — see themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires who have no concern for their class interests. Instead, they appear to vote for GOP for altogether different reasons: traditionalism (social conservatism), nationalism, cultural tribalism, etc.