November 16, 2012  |  

New Poll Shows Tax Fairness Was Important Consideration for 2/3 of Voters

New Poll Shows Tax Fairness Was Important Consideration for 2/3 of Voters

Democrats Eliminate GOP Advantage on Tax Issue  

(Washington, D.C. – November 16, 2012) Two-thirds of voters (67 percent) say “making the tax system more fair” was a “very” or “fairly important consideration in making [their] voting decisions this year,” according to a new poll released today by Hart Research Associates on behalf of Americans for Tax Fairness.

Of this group, 58 percent supported President Obama while only 40 percent supported Governor Romney.  Democrats benefitted by an even larger margin in Senate races: 62 percent of these voters supported the Democratic candidate compared to just 36 percent who supported the Republicans.

“Based on this poll, voters spoke loud and clear on Election Day: they see the tax system as rigged in favor the wealthy, and it affected who they voted for,” said Frank Clemente, campaign manager of Americans for Tax Fairness, a diverse campaign of over 225 national, state, and local organizations united in support of a tax system that works for all Americans. “It’s a wake-up call to those about to debate the fate of the Bush tax cuts – end them for the richest 2 percent but extend them for the middle class.”

The poll also showed that more Americans (35 percent) “think the Democratic Party would do a better job when it comes to dealing with taxes” than the Republican Party (32 percent).  Republicans held an 11-point edge over Democrats on this issue in March 2010 (36 percent to 25 percent) and a 2-point edge as recently as last June (34 percent to 32 percent).

In fact, after a bruising partisan election the poll showed that by a 17-point margin (56 percent to 39 percent), voters still “think the best way for Congress to deal with the Bush tax cuts” is to “end tax cuts for those making over $250,000” compared to those who think Congress should “continue the tax cuts for everyone.” Independents (54 percent), moderates (64 percent), and swing voters who considered supporting the other candidate (62 percent) all support ending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent.

“This poll shows that if Republicans hold the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans hostage so that the richest 2 percent can keep their tax cuts – causing all the Bush tax cuts to expire – they will pay the political price, not President Obama and the Democrats,” said Guy Molyneux, a partner and senior vice president at Hart Research Associates. “President Obama and the Democrats now hold a commanding position in the debate over tax policy.”

When voters hear President Obama’s position on the Bush tax cuts – that he will sign a bill continuing them for 98 percent of Americans, but will veto a bill continuing them for incomes over $250,000 – 61 percent agree with his stance, including 40 percent who strongly agree, and only 35 percent disagree.  In contrast, when voters are read the congressional Republican’s position – that they will pass a bill continuing the cuts for all income levels but will block any bill ending the cuts for those making over $250,000 – only 42 percent agree with the GOP position, while a 53 percent majority rejects it.

If no agreement is reached and the Bush tax cuts expire for all Americans, voters say by a 15-point margin that they will blame Republicans in Congress (43 percent), not President Obama (28 percent) for the resulting tax increase.  Democrats will clearly win support from the middle of the electorate in this scenario.  By lopsided margins, such key voting groups as independents (+21 points), swing voters (+34 points), and moderates (+30 points) say that they will blame congressional Republicans more than the president.

Voters want to reduce the budget deficit by increasing revenue through progressive tax measures, not by cutting Medicare and Medicaid.

•     84 percent of voters approve of increasing taxes on the profits American corporations make overseas, to ensure that they pay the same taxes on those as they do on domestic profits.

•     Voters also favor a surtax of five percent on personal income over $5 million (61 percent), ending the preferential tax treatment of the sale of stocks and other assets (61 percent), and increasing the estate tax on estates of more than $7 million (58 percent).

•     In contrast, nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) disapprove of raising the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 percent to 67 percent, and 78 percent oppose cuts to Medicaid benefits.

The polling materials can be found at:

Hart conducted the telephone survey of 1,009 voters nationwide (including 201 cell-phone only voters) on Nov. 7 – 9, 2012 to assess the role of the tax issue in voters’ electoral decision-making, attitudes on the issue of ending the Bush tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers, and support for various deficit reduction proposals.


Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) is a diverse campaign of over 225 national, state, and local organizations united in support of a tax system that works for all Americans. It has come together based on the belief that the country needs comprehensive, progressive tax reform that results in greater revenue to meet our growing needs. This starts by ending the Bush-era tax breaks for the richest 2 percent and by making critical investments that create and sustain jobs while taking a balanced approach to addressing America’s fiscal challenges.