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Most Americans Oppose Obama on Welfare Waivers

2:31 PM, Sep 21, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Mitt Romney may want to consider adding a few more lines about welfare reform—and Barack Obama’s gutting of the law’s work requirement—back into his stump speech. A new poll conducted by the National Republican Congressional Committee asked 1170 respondents two questions about welfare reform, and the results show most Americans overwhelmingly support maintaining work requirements and would be more likely to oppose a candidate who supports waiving those requirements. 

The first question was, “You may have heard that the Obama Administration announced changes to Bill Clinton’s welfare reform law.  Which of the following two statements comes closest to your opinion?"

- In a time of high unemployment, it is necessary to give states the flexibility to waive work requirements for people on welfare who have children.

- Requiring people on welfare to actively look for a job has been key to the success of welfare reform and it should not be changed.

The two statements are relatively neutral, the first reflecting what defenders of President Obama’s welfare waivers argue, the second what opponents of the change argue. Thirty-four percent said they support the waivers to the work requirement, while 66 percent said they oppose the change. Among those opposed to the change were 59 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of Republicans, and 72 percent of independents.

The second question asked if respondents would be more or less likely to support a candidate who supported the welfare work requirement change. Here, 72 percent of respondents said that would make them less likely to vote for that candidate, including 61 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of Republicans, and 74 percent of independents.

And even though the poll was conducted for the NRCC, the pollsters didn’t exactly oversample Republicans. Here’s the partisan breakdown: 36 percent independents, 33 percent Democrats, and 27 percent Republicans.

The Romney campaign had a TV ad hitting Obama on the work requirement waivers prior to the Republican National Convention in August. Liberals and the mainstream media claimed the ad misrepresented Obama’s change to the law, and we haven’t heard much from Romney since. As it turns out, plenty of voters have strong opinions on the issue. Might we see that welfare ad resurface in the final month and a half?

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