Friday, November 14, 2008

Polls Show GOP Losing Edge on Taxes

By Nathan L. Gonzales

Republicans aren’t just losing ground in the House and the Senate. They’ve ceded their traditional advantage on some key issues, including taxes.

An Oct. 17-19 Opinion Research Corp. poll for CNN showed that Americans believed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) would do a better job handling the tax issue than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), 50 percent to 44 percent.

Despite Republican efforts to brand Obama as just another tax-and-spend liberal, the Democratic nominee was very disciplined on the campaign trail, explaining that under his plan, 95 percent of Americans would not see a tax increase and that under McCain’s plan, health care benefits would be taxed.

On Election Day, most voters were skeptical — of both parties.

According to national exit polling, 71 percent of voters believed that their taxes would go up if Obama were elected president. But 61 percent believed their taxes would increase in a McCain administration.

An earlier Oct. 30-Nov. 1 Opinion Research poll showed that 48 percent of likely voters thought it to be very likely or somewhat likely that their taxes would be lower four years from now under President Obama. Only 40 percent believed that to be the case under President McCain.

A pre-election survey conducted in four battleground states by the Republican firm OnMessage Inc. for the American Issues Project, a conservative group that favors small government, a strong national defense and low taxes, confirms that the line has been blurred between the supposed tax cutting and tax hiking parties.

Fifty-one percent believed their taxes would go up under Obama, compared to 41 percent who believed they would see a tax increase under President McCain. But almost one-quarter of respondents believed their taxes would go down under Obama, compared to only 9 percent who believed they would pay fewer taxes under McCain.

The OnMessage poll surveyed 1,200 likely and early voters in Virginia, Ohio, Florida and Colorado Nov. 2-3.

There are numerous factors for the shift, but the electorate’s changing priorities are not helping the GOP.

Back in 2000, 14 percent of general election voters said that taxes were their most important issue, and 26 percent said a tax cut should be the most important issue for the new president. George W. Bush won the former group with 80 percent and the latter with 71 percent.

This story first appeared on on November 11, 2008. 2008 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.