To: Interested Parties
From: Guy Cecil, Priorities USA
Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
Global Strategy Group
Date: October 10, 2017
RE: Poll Results on Trump’s Tax Plan
New polling from Priorities USA, as well as polls by independent news organizations, shows when voters learn about the cuts corporations and the wealthy would receive under the Trump tax plan, two thirds say this gives them concerns about Donald Trump; indeed, half of all voters say they have “big” concerns about Trump after hearing about his tax plan. Four in nine Trump voters express concerns about Trump after hearing about his plan.
Given the finding that the Trump tax plan can become a major vulnerability for President Trump and other Republicans who support it, Democratic elected officials and progressive organizations should be aggressive in making the case against the tax plan, which is badly out of sync with voters’ priorities for tax reform.
The Trump tax plan provides large tax cuts for both wealthy individuals and corporations, and polling shows this is the exact opposite of what most voters want. In independent polling, large majorities say both the wealthy and corporations should be paying more in taxes, while few voters think either the wealthy or large corporations should be paying less.
Criticisms of President Trump’s tax plan are likely to be highly credible with voters, because by a 30-point margin voters already believe that Trump mainly looks out for the interests of wealthy people and big corporations, rather than looking out for the interests of regular people. Just half of Trump voters see him as standing clearly on the side of the average person.
The poll findings also show that because President Trump has squandered his credibility, he is not in a position to be believed when he says that his plan is mainly for the middle class and will pay for itself. Just a third of voters say they have confidence in Trump when it comes to having the integrity and honesty a president should have.
A Backlash Against Trump When Voters Learn About His Plan
There is a strong negative reaction against President Trump when voters learn that he is “pushing a tax cut plan that would give the largest tax cuts to millionaires and big multi-national corporations, and would create new tax breaks that would allow the wealthiest Americans such as Trump to pay even less taxes.” Among all voters, a full 67% say this gives them big concerns or some concerns about Trump, including a 51% majority who say it gives them big concerns about him. Just 29% of voters say hearing this about Trump’s tax plan gives them only small concerns or no concerns at all.
Four in nine of Trump’s own voters express concerns about him after hearing about the ways his tax plan would benefit the wealthy and corporations. The issue drives a wedge between Trump and his base of white non-college educated voters, 63% of whom express concerns about Trump as a result of this issue. Among voters who describe themselves as independents, 73% voice concerns about Trump, including 52% who say they have big concerns about him.
One can see the potential for this issue adversely affecting Trump’s overall approval rating, in the way the issue of healthcare has. Nearly all of those who currently disapprove of Trump’s job performance express concerns about him after hearing about his tax plan, but so too do 39% of those who approve of his performance, including 20% who have big concerns.
Real Tax Reform: Voters Want the Wealthy and Corporations to Pay More
Several recent polls have found that Americans think both the wealthy and corporations should be paying more, not less, in taxes. In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll, for example, 62% said they would increase taxes on the wealthy, while just 12% said they would decrease the amount the wealthy pay in taxes. Similarly, respondents said by 55% to 16% that they would increases rather than decrease taxes on corporations.
Only 4% of respondents in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll say the middle class should pay more in taxes. This suggests that Americans will be unhappily surprised that under the Trump tax plan 13.5% of middle income families would pay an average of $1,000 more in the first year of the plan, and 28% would be paying an average of $1,300 more in 2027, per the independent analysis of the Tax Policy Center.
Recent polling by Priorities USA among persuadable Trump voters shows they too believe the wealthy and big corporations are not paying their fair share. Sixty-five percent of all persuadable Trump voters say big corporations are not paying their fair share, while just 14% say they are paying more than their fair share. The results are similar for millionaires and billionaires: 65% say less than their fair share, 13% say more than their fair share. Obama-Trump voters, a subset of all Trump persuadable voters, are more likely than average to say millionaires and billionaires are not paying their fair share (70%).
Large majorities of persuadable Trump voters feel that working families (65%) and the middle class (63%) are paying more than their fair share of taxes to the federal government, which our qualitative research has shown compounds their frustration with the ability of those at the top to avoid paying their fair share.
Indeed, 55% of persuadable Trump voters (100% of who, by definition, voted for President Trump last November), say they would oppose a Trump tax plan under which the wealthiest Americans and big corporations would see the largest tax cuts, even if the plan cut their own personal income taxes.
Trump Has Two Key Weaknesses That Add to His Vulnerability on Taxes
As President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and others falsely claim that the Trump tax plan is all about helping the middle class and will pay for itself through economic growth, a lot will be riding on who voters believe in the tax debate. The survey results indicate that Trump comes to this debate with his credibility badly damaged, and with the public already inclined to believe that Trump favors the interests of the wealthy special interests.
When asked who Trump mainly looks out for, only 25% of voters today say that Trump mainly looks out for the interests of regular people, while a majority of 55% say he looks out for the interests of wealthy people and big corporations (15% volunteer “some of both”). While 91% of Clinton voters are convinced that Trump mainly looks out for those at the top, only 50% of Trump’s own voters believe he looks out primarily for the interests of regular people. Non-college educated white voters say Trump sides with those at the top by a 9-point margin. So when progressive organizations and Democratic leaders make the case that Trump’s tax plan is skewed to benefit the wealthy and corporations rather than the middle class this is a point of view the public is primed to believe.
In the recent Priorities USA polling among persuadable Trump voters, we found a 20-point increase since January in the percent of Obama-Trump voters who see Trump as primarily looking out for the wealthy.
Moreover, we are now in a political environment when voters are inclined to discount the truthfulness of Trump’s claims. Only 33% of voters say they have confidence in Trump when it comes to having integrity and honesty, while 51% say they have doubts about him and 14% feel somewhere in between. Just 29% of independents express confidence in President Trump’s integrity and honesty – a factor that will undercut the effectiveness of Trump’s pronouncements with this key group of voters.
These results clearly indicate that Democratic leaders and progressive organizations should be aggressive in challenging President Trump and other Republicans on Trump’s tax plan. Despite the apparent belief of President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and others that the tax plan can help them repair the significant damage they suffered as a result of their failed healthcare repeal efforts, the tax plan is an issue on which they have significant and similar vulnerabilities. The biggest vulnerability is that the Trump-Republican vision of big corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the wealthy is definitely at odds with what most Americans want and expect from tax reform.
About This Poll
Garin Hart Yang Research Group and the Global Strategy Group conducted telephone 1,000 interviews with a representative cross section of voters nationwide, from September 24 to September 28, 2017. The margin of error for the full sample is +/-3.2%. The two firms previously surveyed Trump persuadable voters online between August 16 and 29, 2017