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Independents, Democrats Not on Board With GOP Tax Plan

Independents, Democrats Not on Board With GOP Tax Plan

Story Highlights

  • Majority of independents (56%) join 87% of Democrats in opposing tax plan
  • While 70% of Republicans approve of the plan, 16% disapprove
  • 29% of Americans overall approve of the proposed tax changes

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the Senate version of the Republican tax reform bill made its way through the legislative process this weekend, Gallup documented a highly partisan imbalance in Americans' reactions. Seven percent of Democrats and 25% of independents polled Friday and Saturday say they approve of the proposed changes to the federal tax code, contrasted with 70% of Republicans.

U.S. Adults' Reaction to Proposed Changes to the Federal Tax Code
From what you've heard or read about them, would you say you approve or disapprove of these proposed changes to the tax code?
Approve Disapprove No opinion
% % %
U.S. adults 29 56 16
Republicans 70 16 14
Independents 25 56 19
Democrats 7 87 7
Gallup, Dec. 1-2, 2017

Mostly as a result of weak support from Democrats and independents regarding the proposed tax changes, 29% of U.S. adults as a whole approve of the plan, while 56% disapprove and 16% have no opinion. Still, 16% of Republicans disapprove, resulting in fewer Republicans approving of the plan (70%) than Democrats disapproving (87%).

The tax bill passed a major hurdle Saturday morning when the Senate approved it on a 51 to 49 near party-line vote. It now heads to conference committee where representatives from the House and Senate will work to craft compromise legislation that could get through both chambers by month's end.

Americans' current approval of the proposed tax changes is slightly lower than the 39% approval Gallup found the last time Congress took on a major overhaul of the federal tax code. That was in 1986, with President Ronald Reagan spearheading the legislation. However, the big difference between the two efforts is that far fewer Americans opposed the 1986 tax bill than oppose the proposals being debated today, 34% vs. 56%, respectively. More than a quarter of Americans in September 1986, just prior to final passage of that plan, expressed no opinion about it -- roughly twice today's level.

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Sizable Portion of Republicans and Independents Undecided on Plan

If there is a bright spot in these data for Republicans, it is that public uncertainty about the plan is highest among Republicans (14%) and independents (19%) -- two groups that might break relatively positively toward the law as they learn more about it, thus nudging overall approval a bit higher. By contrast, just 7% of Democrats have no opinion about the GOP tax proposals.

Notably, Democrats have been following the news about congressional debate over the tax bill more closely than other party groups have. Thirty-nine percent of Democrats report following the topic very closely -- well above the 28% of Republicans and 25% of independents.

Even when factoring in those following the tax bill somewhat closely, Democrats are still more attentive, with 74% following it very or somewhat closely, versus 67% of Republicans and 56% of independents.

U.S. Adults' Attention to News About the Federal Tax Code
How closely have you been following the news about the tax bill being debated in Congress that would make major changes to the federal tax code for individuals and businesses -- very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely or not at all?
Very closely Somewhat closely Not too closely Not at all
% % %
U.S. adults 30 34 21 14
Republicans 28 39 20 12
Independents 25 31 24 19
Democrats 39 35 16 9
Gallup, Dec. 1-2, 2017

Implications

After a few short weeks of intense political negotiations, Republican leaders have arrived at an overhaul of the federal tax code that appeals to much of the GOP base but has yet to win over independents and has hit a brick wall with Democrats.

While the 29% of Americans favoring the current tax plan isn't markedly different from the 39% who favored Reagan's tax cut plan in 1986, today's plan sparks much more disapproval, leaving fewer Americans uncertain about the plan. Further, intensity seems to be on the side of the opposition, with Democrats paying closer attention to news about the tax proposals and appearing more unified in their opposition to the plan than Republicans are in support of it.

Republicans seem set on passing their tax bill regardless of public opinion, both to keep election promises to their political base and to have a solid legislative success on which to campaign in the 2018 midterms. But for this approach to work in their favor, they may at least need to convert some Republicans and independents who have no opinion about the plan into supporters -- something the conference committee negotiators may want to keep in mind as they consider provisions like cutting the corporate tax rate and eliminating tax exemptions used by the middle class.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 1-2, 2017, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

Gallup


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