Democrats are arguing that they can win the debate over the tax law President Trump signed in December, pointing to a new poll conducted by GBA Strategies for the liberal Not One Penny coalition.
The poll found that 40 percent of voters support the new tax law, compared with 44 percent who oppose it.
“The bottom line here is that a precise messaging focused on the impact on the middle class, what the wealthy get at the expense of middle-class families, is a conversation that actually benefits progressives,” Margie Omero, a principal at GBA Strategies, said on a press call Monday.
The tax law was widely unpopular when it passed Congress, but several other recent polls have shown it gaining support.
Republicans predict the law will get popular over time, giving them a boost in the midterm elections. But Democrats say the public will be on their side so long as they continue to hammer home their message about the law benefiting the wealthy.
Thirty-four percent of voters in the GBA Strategies poll said they think the tax law has already improved the economy, compared to 22 percent who said it’s made the economy worse. Nearly half of voters said they think the plan hasn’t had any effect on their personal finances so far, compared with 21 percent who said it’s improved them and 11 percent who said it’s made their finances worse.
The survey found that Democrats are currently focused on taxes than Republicans. Forty-three percent of Democrats said they have heard a lot about the tax plan, while only 35 percent of Republicans said the same. Democrats were also likely than Republicans to say the plan would be a major factor when voting.
The survey found that the messages voters see about the tax law affect their opinions of it.
GBA Strategies split the survey respondents into four groups, presented them with different messages about the tax plan and then asked them again about their views of the law. The group that was only given messages against the plan increased their opposition to the law substantially, while the group that only saw pro-tax plan messages shifted toward supporting the law. The groups that saw messages both for and against the plan saw little or no movement on their opinions of it.
The survey also found that anti-tax plan messaging that argued that the law would hurt the middle class and disproportionately help the wealthy was effective than messaging focused on broader economic effects.
GBA Strategies said in a memo that “engaging on taxes is essential given the current political landscape: despite broader climate advantages for Democrats, voters are somewhat optimistic about the economy and the tax plan’s economic impact, but are responsive to progressive arguments about the law’s negative consequences.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told reporters Monday that “Republicans are spending a whole lot of money trying to persuade the public they were wrong, and so it’s very important we push back with the facts, and that’s what we intend to do in the coming weeks and months.”
Van Hollen, who is chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said that he thinks the arguments against the tax law work in red states as well as blue states. There are 10 Democratic senators up for reelection this fall in states that Trump carried.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a red state or a blue state, the idea of running up the debt by $1.5 trillion and cutting Medicare and Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy is not popular,” he said.
The poll was conducted online from Feb. 9 to Feb. 17 and has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.