Why Democrats are willing to walk off the fiscal cliff

at 07:49 AM ET, 07/17/2012

Less than 24 hours after Democrats publicly pronounced their willingness to jump off the so-called fiscal cliff later this year if Republicans refuse to drop their opposition to ending tax cuts for certain income levels, they got a bit of good news: the public is on their side.


A cliff. Not a fiscal one. BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/GettyImages
Forty-four percent of people in a new Pew Research Center poll said that a tax increase on incomes over $250,000, which is what President Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing, would help the economy, while 22 percent said it would hurt the economy.

Similarly, 41 percent of Pew respondents said that raising taxes on income over $250,000 would make the tax system “more fair,” while 21 percent said it would make it “less fair”.

The numbers are even more encouraging for Obama (and Democrats more broadly) among independents when it comes to ending the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000. By a more than two-to-one margin — 41 percent to 18 percent — political independents believe ending the tax cuts would be helpful to the economy.

And yet, as good as an issue as this for Obama among independents, it’s also a challenge for him: Many unaffiliated voters still aren’t entirely aware that Obama is the candidate pushing an end to tax cuts for income over $250,000.

Fifty-three percent of independents were aware that Obama is the candidate in the race supporting raising taxes on income over $250,000. That, of course, means that 47 percent either weren’t aware (20 percent), thought Romney was pushing for ending tax breaks for people at that income level (7 percent) or that both (or neither) candidate was advocating that policy (20 percent).

And so, while Obama's policy on raising taxes on income over $250,000 is decidedly popular among independents, not nearly enough of them know that it’s his policy at all.

The goal for Obama is simple and yet not easily accomplished. It’s simple in that he can talk about the tax increase at every event he speaks at, and his campaign can run ads touting the proposal. What makes it a little tough is that the television airwaves in swing states are already totally flooded with ads, and breaking through that clutter to reach independents is a tall task.

The Pew poll suggests that Obama and Democrats are well positioned to win if and when Congress plunges off the fiscal cliff. Now they need to win the messaging war on the issue between now and Nov. 6.

Swing state polls show four states close: New polling from the bipartisan public affairs firm Purple Strategies shows Obama and Romney separated by three points or fewer in Colorado, Virginia, Florida and Ohio.

The automated (i.e. no cell phones) polls show Romney leading 48 percent to 45 percent in Florida, Obama leading by the same margin in Ohio, and Obama leading by 1 and 2 percent in Colorado and Virginia, respectively.

Both men have high negatives in most of these states. Romney’s unfavorable rating is at least 10 points higher than his favorable rating in Colorado (37 percent favorable, 55 unfavorable) and Ohio (37-50), while Obama’s disapproval outpaces his approval rating by double digits in Florida (43 percent approve, 54 disapprove).

GOP group reserves time for House races: The American Action Network nonprofit and its super PAC affiliate, The Congressional Leadership Fund, have reserved a combined $6 million in ad space for this fall that can be used for more then a dozen key races, the Post’s Paul Kane reports.

The outside groups are reserving time in seven media markets, including Des Moines, Cleveland, Orlando, Las Vegas and Philadelphia.

The groups are headed up by former senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and former congressmen Vin Weber (R-Minn.) and Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.).

Fixbits:

Romney’s campaign appears to have moved the goalposts a bit on his Bain involvement, saying now merely that he wasn’t involved in the “day to day” operations of the business.

Obama’s campaign launches a new ad in Pennsylvania, where Romney is today, hitting him for not paying as much in taxes as regular Americans.

Conservatives jump on Obama for saying entrepreneurs need help to be successful.

Politifact backs up Obama’s assertion that “Mitt Romney’s companies sent jobs overseas.”

George H.W. Bush won’t be attending the Republican National Convention.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R): Still popular.

After Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) attacked him for defunding Planned Parenthood (and more specifically, the breast cancer screenings it does), Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) responds with a strong ad featuring his mother talking about her own battle with the disease.

One tidbit we missed in Monday’s fundraising winners and losers post: Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) has more than six times as much cash on hand ($3 million) as Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) ($447,000).

A Democratic poll shows Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) is very safe.

In Washington state, a candidate’s mother has set up a super PAC to support her daughter’s congressional campaign.

Must-reads:

Could a missing word take down Obamacare?” — Sarah Kliff, Washington Post

Republican Rob Portman, who could be a vice presidential contender, is a Washington insider” — Jerry Markon and Alice Crites, Washington Post

Can Heather Wilson, a moderate Republican, win over New Mexico’s Latino voters?” — Krissah Thompson, Washington Post

Mormons’ First Families Rally Behind Romney” — Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

Red Alert” — Charlie Cook, National Journal

 
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