Much has been made about Mitt Romney’s definition of your typical Obama voter as people benefiting from “handouts,” but a new survey reveals there’s not much difference between the Obama and Romney crowd when it comes to entitlement.
Pew Research says the majority of Americans — 55% –have received government benefits from at least one of the six best-known federal entitlement programs. Fifty-nine percent of the people who voted for Obama fall into the category; 53% of Romney voters benefited from a major government program.
But there remains a significant disagreement on the role of government, even among those who benefit from an existing entitlement program:
Nearly three-quarters of those who ever received welfare benefits (73%) say government has a duty to care for those who cannot care for themselves. In contrast, less than six-in-ten (56%) of those who have never been on welfare agree.
Similar double-digit gaps surface between non-recipients and those who ever received food stamps (14 percentage points) and Medicaid (13 points).
But when those who ever received unemployment benefits are compared with those who have not, the gap virtually disappears: About six-in-ten adults (57%) who have received unemployment benefits say government should help the helpless, while 58% who never collected jobless benefits agree.
No significant differences in attitudes toward government’s responsibility to the neediest emerged between adults who have ever received Social Security and those who have not (60% vs. 57%). Similarly about six-in-ten (61%) of those who benefited from Medicare believe it is government’s duty to help those who cannot help themselves, while 56% of those who have not received these benefits agree.