Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Conclusions abound on tax deal

Depending on your agenda you can draw pretty much any conclusion you want from our polling on the tax deal in the key swing states of Ohio and Wisconsin:

-The Democratic base is furious! Most Democrats in both states- 49% in Ohio and 58% in Wisconsin- think that Obama made too many concessions to Congressional Republicans in the deal. Likewise in each state liberals express overall opposition to the deal- by a 41/39 margin in Ohio and by a 48/35 spread in Wisconsin. You could use any of that data to make the assertion that Obama has displeased his party's core voters.

-This is a positive game changer for Obama, significantly improving his standing with independents! Obama's approval numbers in Ohio and Wisconsin are both well up from where they were in late October, particularly with independents. In Wisconsin his approval spread is now 47/46, up a net 18 points from 37/54 right before the election. He's improved in Ohio as well, although not quite as dramatically. He's at 42/49 there, up a net 10 points from 38/55 right before the election. In both states the improvement is clearest with independents- he's gone from 32% to 47% with them in Wisconsin and from 30% to 40% with them in Ohio. That may be because those voters appreciate him compromising across party lines or it may just be because things start looking a lot better for Obama when you stop polling the 2010 electorate.

-The Republican base is not happy with the compromise and Mitt Romney positioning himself to the right of folks like Mike Huckabee and John Thune will be a big winner for him! 55% of Republicans in both Ohio and Wisconsin think that Obama didn't make enough concessions to them, even as he gets hit from the left for making too many. The GOP base may have gotten a lot, but it wishes it had gotten even more.

-This is a rare issue where even conservatives are in line with Obama and Romney's opposition could hurt his standing with the independent voters that are his greatest strength right now! In both Ohio and Wisconsin the highest level of support for the deal by ideology group comes from conservatives. 50% of them support it in Ohio compared to 43% of moderates and 39% of liberals and 49% of them support it in Wisconsin compared to 43% of moderates and 35% of liberals.

You could go on and on...in the end I think it's pretty much a wash for Obama. Voters in both states support the tax deal, but by small margins. It's 45/32 in favor in Ohio and 44/34 in favor in Wisconsin. It's a very unusual issue in that there's little difference across party lines in how voters rates it. In Ohio 48% of Republicans, 47% of independents, and 42% of Democrats support it. In Wisconsin it's 52% of Republicans, 42% of Democrats, and 39% of independents expressing favor. A lot of Obama's hot button issues have been incredibly polarizing with pretty much all Democrats in support and pretty much all Republicans in opposition but this is an exception.

Even though an unusual number of Republicans are supporting and an unusual number of Democrats are opposing Obama on this issue it's not having a huge impact on overall perceptions of him. In Wisconsin 79% of Democrats who oppose the deal still approve of Obama, only slightly below his 85% overall approval with Democrats and just 6% of Republicans who support the deal now approve of Obama, barely above the 5% overall who approve of him. It's a similar story in Ohio- 66% of Dems who oppose the deal still approve of Obama compared to his 71% overall approval with them and only 7% of Republicans who support the deal now approve of Obama, actually slightly below the 11% of Republicans in the state overall who do.

The improved numbers with independents are good news for Obama but on the whole this is not having a big impact on his political standing.

Full results here


Jonny V said...

Liberals will come home to Obama when they realize this deal was his only choice to get anything done. If the START treaty is signed and DADT repealed because this deal was made - that's very good, indeed.

Plus this deal should help to improve the economy and Obama is wise enough to know that is far FAR more important for his reelection chances than this bit of politics two years before the 2012 election. This will mostly be forgotten by November 2012 --- but the current state of the economy will be on everyone's minds.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"If the START treaty is signed and DADT repealed because this deal was made - that's very good, indeed."

Of course, it remains to be seen whether either of those things will happen. Republicans said they would block votes on anything until the rich got their tax cuts extended, but now that they've gotten what they wanted, some on the right (or even the center-right, like Romney) are lashing out at McConnell and crew for daring to compromise with the president. So, in some ways, they may now be even less inclined to compromise than before, lest their base rise up in anger. DADT repeal needs 60 votes, so at least two Republicans have to come on board, and START needs 67, so at least 9. That's a tall order, particularly for the latter. Senate Republicans are probably going to remain a stubborn, mindless monolith of "no" henceforth.

I agree with your second point, though. You probably read Krauthammer's column.

Jonny V said...

Can't Obama play hardball and not sign the tax cut deal until START is signed and DADT repealed?

I just don't see how the Republicans can stand against START when nuclear treaties have always been bipartisan in the past and just about every important Republican from the past has come out in support of it.

As for as DADT; I read that Brown and Collins were on board - they just needed the tax cut to be passed first.

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