The Hill poll shows voters want lower tax rates

With the blizzard of tax reform plans coming from Barack Obama and the Republican presidential candidates, The Hill decided to poll likely voters on what they think the proper level of taxation should be for higher-income earners and corporations.  Most voters want lower rates than currently assessed, although it’s unclear whether they know it or not:


Three-quarters of likely voters believe the nation’s top earners should pay lower, not higher, tax rates, according to a new poll for The Hill.

The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below.

The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.

The Hill Poll also found that 73 percent of likely voters believe corporations should pay a lower rate than the current 35 percent, as both the White House and Republicans push plans to lower rates.

As Peter Schroeder writes in the analysis, that runs counter to results from other pollsters.  The difference, though, seems to be the way in which the questions get asked.  In other polls, the surveys ask whether rates should be increased, decreased, or kept the same; in this poll, respondents have a choice of specific rates without informing them which is current.

The results speak for themselves.  On the personal rate for families earning more than $250K, likely voters chose the following rates:

  • Rate under 20%: 21%
  • 20%: 17%
  • 25% 23%
  • 30%: 14%
  • 35% 13%
  • 40%: 4%
  • Over 45%: 2%

Given that the original proposal from Obama and Democrats was to push that rate to nearly 40%, it could be said that only 6% of the voters agreed with that level of taxation.  It’s probably more accurate to say that voters think they want the rates increased until they find out what the rates actually are.  That’s a measurement of the effectiveness of class-warfare rhetoric — and its limitations.


The Hill also polled on the impact of the debate over the HHS mandate, and it’s pretty clear that it has made no real difference, despite the hopes and fears of either party.  Twenty-eight percent of likely voters say it hasn’t impacted their outlook on the presidential race at all; 35% say it’s made them more likely to vote for Obama, while 36% say it makes them more likely to vote for the GOP challenger.  Women split almost the same at 36/34 for Obama, but seniors split much more toward the GOP, 47/30.  Independents are slightly more inclined to vote Republican, 39/30, as does all income demos except the lowest- and highest-earning voters.  This looks more like a reinforcement issue than a game changer, at least thus far.

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