September 15, 2010 To: Interested Parties Fr: John Anzalone and Mark Keida Re: Recent Data on Tax Cuts The president’s recent proposal to extend tax cuts for the middle class, while letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthy, is a smart political move for a number of reasons: 1) it enjoys rising public support; 2) it protects against the loss of swing independents; 3) it allows Democrats to drive a contrast with the GOP; and 4) it allows Democrats to address voters’ overlapping economic concerns. First, there is solid public support behind the president’s plan. A majority (56%) opposes extending tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans (36% support this) according to a recent CBS poll. This includes a plurality of Republicans (48% to 46%) who believe we should let tax cuts expire for the rich. When asked specifically about the plan to extend tax cuts for the middle class, pluralities support the president’s plan. The most recent USA Today/Gallup poll from late August finds 44% support the president’s plan, compared to 37% who want to extend all taxes and 15% who want to let all taxes expire. This compares to older polls showing a deficit. Second, the president’s plan helps protect against the exodus of swing independents to the Republican Party this cycle. Recent internal polling conducted by GQR shows independents favoring the Democratic position on taxes by a 53% to 38% margin. Recent internal battleground polling conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research shows 40% to 50% of voters siding with the president’s position, compared to about one-third for the GOP position. Third, the president’s proposal allows Democrats to drive a clear contrast with the Republican Party at precisely the time when voters are starting to pay attention to the midterm elections. The Democrats are facing a hostile electorate that holds both Parties in low esteem. We need to fill in the gaps and demonstrate that Democrats are on the side of the middle class, while Republicans are on the side of millionaires. Finally, the president’s plan helps him and his Party address several economic cross-pressures facing the public. Americans are torn between competing priorities: lowering taxes, reducing the federal budget deficit, and ensuring that businesses have what they need to spend money and grow jobs. The middle class tax plan allows Democrats to thread this needle. Even independents in are concerned about the price tag and budget implications of extending high-end tax cuts. Ultimately, Democrats must be exceedingly disciplined in their messaging, reminding voters at every step that the president’s plan puts money into the pockets of families and small businesses, takes a responsible course on the budget deficit, and most important, presents a stark choice between the Democrats, who are siding with the middle class, and the Republicans, who are siding with millionaires and proposing the same economic policies that drove our economy into a ditch.
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