Monday, December 13, 2010

Bowers: "Tax cut deal popular, but not Social Security payroll tax cut"

From the ABC / WaPo poll (PDF):
Chris Bowers on Kos:
Polling has begun to emerge on the proposed tax cut deal, and the consensus is that the overall deal is pretty popular. Surveys from both Pew and ABC News / Washington Post support this conclusion. Pew shows support at 65% in favor and 20% opposed. ABC / WaPo has support at 69%-29%.

As always, there is more to learn from any given poll than just the topline results. Here are three important details:

  1. Opinions not well-formed. Whenever survey responses are dominated by people who “somewhat” support / oppose or “somewhat” approve / disapprove of something, it is a clear sign that the universe sampled by the poll does not have strong opinions about the poll topic. And so it is the case with the tax cut deal as well.

    According to the ABC / WaPo poll, only 20% of the country “strongly” supports the deal, and only 12% strongly opposes it. More than two-thirds of the country does not feel strongly about it either way. Even though news of the deal dominated political headlines for the past week, the country has not reacted strongly to it.

  2. Social Security payroll tax cut unpopular. While the deal is popular overall, different elements of the deal vary widely in terms of popularity. In particular it is worth noting that the cut to the Social Security payroll tax is actually quite unpopular.

    The payroll tax is the only individual element of the deal that is opposed by a majority of the country. Further, 39% of the country is “strongly” opposed to the deal, equal to the number who “strongly” and “somewhat” support it combined. This aspect of the deal is a minefield for Democrats, in terms of both policy and politics.


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