Memo to the Press: Taxes are a Democratic Issue

Watching MSNBC the last couple of days, I have noticed that analysts have been shocked -- shocked -- at polling indicating that the American public trusts Barack Obama over John McCain on the issue of taxes (by a 48 percent to 34 percent margin [.pdf], to be exact).

There's cause for concern in the surprise of these analysts, the opinions of many of whom I really respect. These analysts are stuck in a moment of time 10 or 20 years ago when the Republicans were successful in demagoguing the tax issue to beat up on Democrats, while Democrats were afraid to say, no, everyone should pay their fair share in taxes, not just the middle class.

But the America if the 1980s and 1990s isn't the America of today. The country has shifted dramatically in the last four years since George W. Bush's reelection -- the partisan make up, the ideology. America is more Democratic and it's more progressive.

Take a look at the NBC/WSJ polling (.pdf). The Republican Party hasn't had an advantage over the Democratic Party on the issue of taxes in over four years in the NBC/WSJ, with the Democrats maintaining a lead on the issue ranging from 5 points to 10 points during this period. It's not some new occurrence that Democrats are favored on taxes -- it's a long brewing trend as voters have come to realize the folly in trickle down economics.

This isn't to say that Obama has not had an effective strategy for dealing with the issue of taxes. The Obama campaign's healthcare ads noting that John McCain would dramatically raise income taxes in his healthcare reform plan, in particular, has been particularly important in swinging his personal numbers on the issue.

That said, it would be nice to see today's analysts waking up to the realities of today rather than believing we live in a static country that is the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago -- or, for that matter, to see a new generation of analysts who actually gets the America of today (many of whom are already doing a great job online) get some air time and column inches in the establishment media.

Tags: Taxes (all tags)

Comments

4 Comments

Re: Memo to the Press: Taxes are a Democratic Issu

Taking the tax issue off the table is one of the most important long-term victories we have won over the Republican Party.

We have also made notable gains on social issues and national security voters, but it's taxes where Democrats used to get destroyed up and down the ballot.

by Skaje 2008-10-23 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to the Press: Taxes are a Democratic Issu

It's not a victory unless and until we can figure out a way to pay for all the things we believe the government should be doing.  Any fool can take the tax issue off the table by saying "okay, I won't raise your taxes," but you can't balance the budget without revenues and those revenues have to come from somewhere.

I like Obama's tax plan but in the long run, I think the notion that we will somehow fund everything solely on the backs of the top 1% is a bit of magical thinking.  I won't call the tax issue a win until we figure out where the revenues are gonna come from, because you still have to govern.

by Steve M 2008-10-23 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to the Press: Taxes are a Democratic


This is sort of a Culture War issue.  It's like guns or abortion- the center has now decided it wants to live with the status quo, but people who don't know how to read polling (i.e. the pundits and "Washington correspondents") don't realize they're getting bluffed by Republicans that the center can be swayed by the particular issue.

Of course, the "issue" is going to last until moderate Republicans (which most of these pundits happen to be) stop getting agitated about it after some sort of events and policy change.  They confuse their personal agitation with true swing voter concern.

by killjoy 2008-10-23 01:13PM | 0 recs
Reduced Racism

Holy cow, that first link also includes a drastic change on page 24:

"African Americans often use race as an excuse to justify wrongdoing"

Strongly agree/somewhat agree (Jan. 2008): 60%

Tend to agree (Oct. 2008): 36%

by JoeFelice 2008-10-23 01:38PM | 0 recs

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