Among top party leaders and strategists, there’s a grudging recognition that the politics of taxation just aren’t what they used to be. In an age of fiscal anxiety, looming deficits and a potential entitlement meltdown, Americans aren’t flatly opposed to increasing taxes – at least, not for the wealthiest taxpayers…

“We’re in this impossible, upside-down position, where if you do nothing, taxes go up. That’s what we got saved from. That goes away now,” said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform and supported the fiscal deal. “Obama had the leverage that the tax cuts are disappearing. The leverage is all his. I’m surprised we did as well as we did.”…

“Republicans no longer win the tax issue and it hurts at the ballot box. Our polling shows that even base Republicans are wanting more from the GOP’s tax message. That’s because voters think that ‘protecting the rich’ is all they are offering. Due credit to the president on that one,” said Brock McCleary, the former polling director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, who heads the firm Harper Polling. “Getting high marks for fiscal discipline won’t happen until Republicans somehow dispatch the notion that they care only about the rich. It’s an imperative to not let that define the Republican economic message.”…

“The sane wing of the Republican Party recognized the GOP was playing a losing hand badly on taxes in a way that was deeply damaging to the Republican brand,” Garin said. “The Republicans will find themselves in a similar mess going forward if they insist on entitlement cuts while resisting new revenues from closing loopholes and tax breaks for those at the top.”