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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 12:17 PM ET, 01/30/2012

Poll watcher: Are capital gains tax rates popular?

A New York Times/CBS News poll released last week shows a stark partisan divide on whether investment income should be taxed at a lower rate than ordinary earnings.

After being read arguments for each side of the debate (see full question wording), two in three Democrats favored taxing investment gains like traditional income (66 percent), but only one in three Republicans said the same (33 percent). Independents tilted closer to Democrats, with 54 percent saying taxes should be the same for investment and traditional income. Among all adults, 52 percent supported taxing capital gains the same as regular income.

Attitudes on the capital gains tax rate — along with most tax code minutiae — are tough to nail down. In a 2006 Pew survey, half of Americans supported extending capital gains tax cuts passed by then President Bush. But beliefs are more consistent with the idea that wealthy Americans aren’t paying their fair share.

Some 55 percent said upper-income Americans pay less than their fair share in the NYT/CBS poll, and 57 percent in a December Pew poll said the most bothersome issue with taxes is that the wealthy don’t pay enough. It’s no wonder, then, why three quarters of adults supported raising taxes on Americans with annual incomes over $1 million in an October 2011 Post-ABC poll.

Romney way up in Florida — Mitt Romney has surged to a 14-point lead over Newt Gingrich in the latest Quinnipiac University Florida poll conducted Friday through Sunday, making him a very strong favorite to win Tuesday’s primary (Quinnipiac release here).

How is he doing it? Romney doubled his support among tea party supporters from 20 to 40 percent in the last week and improved somewhat among white evangelical Christians, both groups that Romney lost to Gingrich by huge margins in South Carolina less than two weeks ago.

Two automated polls by Insider Advantage (R) and Public Policy Polling (D) don’t track any gains for Romney, showing him with a single digit lead. Other automated polls by Rasmussen and Survey USA show Romney surging to 16- and 15-point leads, respectively. Insider Advantage and PPP called only land line phones. Survey USA called cell phones with live operators, while Rasmussen recruited cell phone only voters over the Internet using non-random methods. More than a quarter of Floridians were cell phone only as of 2010.

Hispanics hit harder by downturn, and they know it — Over half of Hispanics say they’ve been hurt more by the economy than other groups, including upward of six in 10 foreign-born Latinos, according to a Pew Hispanic Center survey released last week. The data shows they’re largely right. Latinos have seen their wealth shrink at faster rates than whites or blacks and unemployment spike especially high (to 11 percent in December). At the same time, Hispanics are more positive on the economy’s prospects, and two in three Hispanics are hopeful their children will have a better standard of living than they have now.

Obama’s week in approval — Obama earns a 46 percent job approval rating in Gallup’s latest tracking poll, with 46 percent disapproving. It’s among his best showings in recent weeks, though Gallup shows little change in polls conducted before and after his State of the Union speech last Tuesday.

Obama stood at 48 to 46 percent approval/disapproval in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week, a mirror of 46-48 percent in December. The change, of course, falls within the margin of error. Will the State of the Union address ultimately matter for Obama’s approval rating? Check out Political Scientist (and Behind the Numbers contributor) John Sides’s blog on the issue. Short answer: No.

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By  |  12:17 PM ET, 01/30/2012

Categories:  Barack Obama, Economy, Federal Budget Deficit, GOP nomination, Presidential Approval, Republican Party, Voting, methodology | Tags:  budget deficit, gop nomination, Republican Party

 
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