Mark Begich is Championing Social Security Because Social Security is Popular

Social Security expansion is an emerging issue that has been heating up some of the 2014 Democratic primaries like IL-13 and PA-13. And while it’s being characterized by some pundits as a fringe left position, and driving the Third Way folks insane, it’s important to ground this discussion in the actual polling data.

Back in November, MoveOn and PPP polled Social Security expansion and found 65% of respondents supported that position:

On the question of whether to cut Social Security, respondents answered in the negative by more than 70 percent in nine out of 10 instances (the lone outlier still opposed cuts by 66 percent). When it came to expanding Social Security, the responses were similarly one-sided: an average of 65 percent supported the proposition.

Notably, almost 70 percent of respondents said they’d be less likely to support a candidate who backed Social Security cuts.

Seen in this light, it’s great politics for Mark Begich to campaign on Social Security expansion in deep red Alaska. This issue does not code as a “welfare” issue, because all Americans receive Social Security in old age. There are issues that Mark Begich has to buck progressives on sometimes, but contrary to Third Way’s concern-trolling, it would make no sense for him to retreat on the Democratic Party’s banner issue.