September 21, 2010
9/21: Electorate Divides Over Extension of Bush Tax Cuts
The Bush era tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year. As the debate in Washington rages on about whether to extend the cuts across the board or to limit the cuts to just the middle class, voters are weighing in. According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, nearly half of registered voters nationally — 49% — believe the tax cuts should be extended to just the middle class but not to those who earn $250,000 or more annually while 48% want everyone to receive an extension of the tax cuts. 3% are unsure.
Partisan differences are alive and well on this question. Seven in ten Democratic voters — 70% — want the tax cuts extended for just the middle class while 64% of Republican voters want them extended for everyone. Independent voters divide with 49% saying they want everyone to enjoy the tax breaks while 47% believe the nation’s wealthiest two percent should not be included.
“The battle lines over the Bush era tax cuts are drawn with an eye focused on the midterm elections,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “The stakes for President Obama, the Democrats, and the GOP in Congress couldn’t be any higher.”
Do voters consider an annual household income of $250,000 or more wealthy? A majority of registered voters — 55% — say it is while 45% believe it is not.
About two-thirds of Democratic voters — 67% — and a majority of independent voters — 54% — view an annual household income of $250,000 or more as being wealthy while 54% of Republican voters do not.
Economy Will Worsen, Say Majority of Americans
A majority of U.S. residents are pessimistic about the future of the nation’s economy. 52% think the worst is yet to come when thinking about America’s economy. However, 44% believe the worst is behind us. 4% are unsure. Similar proportions of registered voters share these sentiments.
There is a partisan difference on this question. 60% of Democrats believe the worst is behind us while 68% of Republicans say the worst is yet to come. A majority of independents nationwide — 55% — also think the worst is still ahead.
This dismal view of the economy crosses regional, gender, and income divides. However, Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 — 55% — and college graduates — 51% — are much more optimistic, saying that, when it comes to the economy, the worst is behind us.
Although the recession has been officially declared over, most U.S. residents think the country is still in one. 80% have this view while 18% disagree. 2% are unsure.
“Notwithstanding official calculations about the end of the recession, the public clearly sees things very differently,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
When Marist last asked this question in April 2008, more than three-quarters — 78% — thought the country was in a recession while 17% thought it was not. 5%, at the time, were unsure.
Majority Expect Steady Financial Picture
Although most Americans have a pessimistic view of the overall economy, residents remain cautiously optimistic about their own personal family finances. 52% think their personal financial situation will remain the same in the next year while 30% believe it will get better. Still nearly one in five — 18% — expect it to get worse.
Little has changed since Marist last asked this question in July. At that time, the same proportion — 52% — said their personal finances would stay the same, 33% reported they would get better, and 15% thought they would get worse.
Not surprisingly, Americans who think the worst of the nation’s economic problems are behind us are more likely to have a brighter outlook of their personal financial situation. 54% of these Americans report their money matters will stay about the same while 39% believe they will improve. Only 7% say they will get worse.
Even 49% of those who think the U.S. economy will get worse report their financial situation will stay the same in the next year, and 22% think it will improve. 29%, though, say they expect it to deteriorate.
Majority Disapprove of Obama’s Handling of Economy
A majority of registered voters nationally — 56% — disapprove of how President Barack Obama is handling the economy while 41% approve. 3% are unsure.
When Marist last asked voters about Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, the electorate divided. 48% disapproved of the president’s fiscal approach while 46% approved. 6% were unsure.
Independent voters and Republican voters account for the increased dissatisfaction in the president’s handling of the economy. Nearly six in ten independent voters — 59% — currently disapprove of President Obama’s fiscal management while 51% held this view in June. There has also been a 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of Republican voters who disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy. 89% report this is the case while 79% shared this opinion in Marist’s previous survey.
Little has changed among Democratic voters on this question. 77% agree with how the president is dealing with the nation’s economy now compared with 76% who thought that way in June.
Not surprisingly, when thinking about the U.S. economy, 74% of voters who believe the worst is yet to come disapprove of how Mr. Obama is handling the economy while 65% who believe the worst is behind us approve of his fiscal approach.
Economic Conditions Still Viewed as Inherited
Nearly six in ten registered voters in the United States — 59% — think President Obama inherited the nation’s current economic conditions while 35% say they are a result of his own policies. 6% are unsure.
Although a majority views today’s economic crisis as inherited, Mr. Obama’s presidential cover on this issue may be diminishing. There has been a notable increase in the proportion of voters who report the status of the U.S. economy is Mr. Obama’s fault. When Marist last asked this question in June, 62% believed today’s economic conditions were thrust upon him while 28% thought they were a result of the president’s policies. 10% were unsure.
Republican voters are the game changer on this question. Currently, 59% attribute today’s tentative economic times to the president’s policies while 34% say he inherited them from his predecessor. 6% are unsure. In Marist’s June survey, 48% of GOP voters blamed the president while 42% thought he inherited the nation’s economic problems. 10% were unsure.
Little has changed among Democratic voters, 82% report the country’s economic crisis was handed to the president compared with 15% who say the onus is on him. 3% are unsure. In June, 78% said the president inherited the country’s economic conditions, 12% pointed a finger at Mr. Obama’s policies, and 10% were unsure.
Looking at independent voters, 62% call the economy “inherited” while 32% blame the president. 6% are unsure. 61%, 30%, and 9%, respectively, held these views in Marist’s previous survey.
75% of voters who think the worst of the nation’s economic conditions have passed say the president inherited the country’s financial problems. Voters who think the worse is yet to come divide. 48% report they are a result of the president’s own policies while 46% say they are inherited.