Several recent polls find Americans are hesitant to ease regulations or taxes on businesses, particularly loosening environmental rules, though a slight majority supports retribution against companies that outsource jobs. All these policies are supported by majorities of Republicans, so Trump is likely to satisfy his base -- if not independents and Democrats.
In a Quinnipiac poll this month, 39 percent of registered voters said Trump should remove regulations on businesses and corporations, while 51 percent said he should not remove regulations. And a December Pew Research Center poll found adults splitting narrowly on the question of whether business regulations in general are necessary to protect the public interest (45 percent) or if they usually do more harm than good (48 percent).
The idea of jettisoning environmental regulations, some of which Trump has already begun peeling back, is even less popular. Roughly 6 in 10 (59 percent) of voters in the Quinnipiac poll opposed Trump removing regulations that are intended to combat climate change. The Pew survey found that by a 25 percentage-point margin, 59 to 34 percent, more Americans think stricter environmental laws and regulations are “worth the cost” than say they “cost too many jobs and hurt the economy.”
The public expresses mixed support for Trump’s proposal to slash business income taxes, with a Post-ABC poll this month finding 48 percent support and 45 percent oppose such a proposal. Trump’s broader view that businesses are overtaxed in the U.S. was shared by only 12 percent of adults in an Gallup poll last spring, while 67 percent said corporations do not pay enough in taxes.
The most popular of Trump’s three proposals is one that would punish companies that move jobs from the United States to other countries, which a narrow 53 percent majority supported and 43 percent opposed in a Post-ABC poll from earlier this month.
Trump’s policies are much more appealing among fellow Republicans, who tend to support deregulation and tax relief. Two-thirds of Republican voters told Quinnipiac that Trump should remove business regulations and 71 percent of Republican-leaning adults told that Pew government regulation does more harm than good. Smaller majorities of Republicans and leaners said environmental regulations cost too many jobs and hurt the economy (58 percent in the Pew poll), and 52 percent of Republican voters said in the Quinnipiac survey that Trump should remove climate change regulations.
About two-thirds of Republicans in the Post-ABC poll also support reducing business taxes (65 percent) and punishing companies who move jobs out of the country (67 percent).
Beyond support for specific policies, Trump’s actions on these issues could reinforce a widespread perception that he will shower favor on corporate America, who many see as having more influence than it should.
But Americans aren't exactly thrilled with big business itself. Twice as many people surveyed by Pew last summer said large corporations have a negative than positive impact on the way things are going in the country, and in a January 2016 poll, Gallup found that 63 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the size and influence of major corporations. Most of that group said corporations should have less influence.
Trump’s gamble is that a mix of taxes, deregulation and threats against would-be outsourcers will fuel a growing economy -- and that the public might well overlook their reservations about policy specifics if the economy is thriving 2-3 years from now. If he doesn’t meet the public’s expectation that he improve the economy, however, Trump may struggle to defend tax and regulation cuts that lack broad support on their own.
All the polls cited in this post were conducted among national samples of adults or likely voters, with most conducted via cellular and landline phones. Details about each survey’s methodology are available at links throughout the story; details for the most recent Post-ABC poll are here.