With the debate still raging over whether the Dem victory in NY-26 is a bellwether for 2012, Dems will pounce on these striking new findings from CNN:

A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans don’t like what they’ve heard so far about congressional Republicans’ plans to change Medicare.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, a majority also don’t think the GOP has cooperated enough with President Barack Obama and, for the first time since they won back control of the House last November, the number of Americans who say that Republican control of the chamber is good for the country has dropped below the 50 percent mark.

The poll indicates that 58 percent of the public opposes the Republican plan on Medicare, with 35 percent saying they support the proposal...

“Half of those we questioned say that the country would be worse off under the GOP Medicare proposals and 56 percent think that GOP plan would be bad for the elderly,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Opposition is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare even if those changes are presented as ones that would not affect existing Medicare recipients.”

The suggestion from CNN seems to be that the Ryan plan, in addition to being unpopular, has caused the GOP’s overall image to sink even as the arguments from both sides have been publicly litigated. That would square with the finding of other analysts who claim that Republicans are particularly vulnerable because the public finds arguments against the plan persuasive. Also, the nearly three-quarters of seniors who oppose Ryancare would suggest that they are rejecting a primary GOP defense of the program: That it doesn’t impact anyone over 55.

The poll, curiously, also finds that a majority of conservatives and even 50 percent of Republicans oppose the plan.

Also interesting: Today’s CNN findings are almost exactly in line with that Dem poll released this morning, which found that 38 percent favor the proposal, versus 54 percent who oppose it. These types of numbers make it pretty clear why Republicans have reprised their attacks on Dems from the left over Medicare: The public’s support for Medicare in roughly its current form seems unshakable, and Dems have clearly succeeded in framing this fight as one between Medicare’s saviors and its would-be destroyers. This will only supply more grist to Democrats who are arguing that it would be insane for Dems to agree to Medicare benefits cuts, and that so doing could squander a situation in which Dems seem to be in total control of the debate.