Memo to the Press: Taxes are a Democratic Issue
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 12:27:48 PM EDT
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.