“It’s important to understand that people are looking at their own bottom line.”

By on May 24, 2018 in Featured News, News

With Cost of Living a Top Concern, Winston & Miller see Tax Cuts as a Winning Issue This Year

WASHINGTON, DC — With the cost of living continuing to be one of the top concerns among American voters, two prominent pollsters are pointing to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as the key accomplishment for Republicans to tout heading into the mid-terms later this year.

The pollsters are David Winston and Myra Miller.  The President and Senior Vice President of the strategic planning and survey research firm, The Winston Group, the pair spoke recently at The Ripon Society’s 8th Annual Senior Staff Symposium on Leadership, which was held on May 11th at Mount Vernon.

“You have about half of Americans saying that they are already in the category of living paycheck-to-paycheck,” Miller stated.  “And you have one-third saying that they are only $400 away from a financial crisis … We asked people what is giving them the most difficulty with the cost of living.  The cost of health care, including premiums and deductibles, is the number one item of a series of cost of living expenses, followed by taxes, food costs, and the costs of utilities.”

According to Miller, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is something that will help address Americans’ concerns in this regard.  She noted that before people were aware of the plan’s key provisions, only 42% said they favored the proposal, and 35% said they were opposed.  After hearing that the plan reduced overall rates, doubled the standard deduction, increased the child tax credit, lowered the business tax rate, and closed many loopholes, 66% of Americans said they were in favor of it, and 18% remained opposed.

The key thing for Republicans now, Miller continued, is to make sure voters know not only about the benefits of the tax reform plan, but that the plan is working.  To that end, she cited an exit poll following the mid-term elections in 2010 when Republicans recaptured the House.  The poll revealed that only 32% of voters who went to the polls that year thought the Obama stimulus plan actually helped the economy, while 65% thought it hurt the economy or made no difference.  “That’s a lesson for Republicans” she observed.  “They have only just started selling the benefits of this plan, and they’ve got to make a long, sustained case for it.”

Miller noted that Republicans are helped in this regard not only by the make-up of the tax plan, but by the political make-up of the electorate, as well.  The average American voter, she said, places themselves at about the center of the ideological spectrum – at 5.32 on a scale of 1 to 9, according to recent polling.  These same voters view Republicans in Congress as being just to the right of them on this spectrum — at 6.24, to be exact.  They also view Democrats as being further to the left – 4.01.

“The takeaway here,” Miller stated, “is that, ideologically, the electorate views themselves as generally closer to Republicans in Congress than Democrats in Congress, particularly on economic issues.  So as Republicans are looking to build a majority coalition, focusing on economic issues is going to be a major opportunity for them.”

Winston concurred, but added a caveat, as well.

“People have to travel less to get to our position than their position,” he said, comparing ideology to transportation costs in game theory.  “The challenge is that we have to have a position.  I’m quite serious about that in the sense that we have to have a product out there.  It is one of the things that we run into sometimes.  We are so focused on them, the other party, that people forget there is even a destination on our side … That’s why it’s so important to define choices, and not simply say why their idea doesn’t work.”

Winston then discussed what he termed the other strategic dynamic in the upcoming election – President Trump’s job approval numbers, which in recent polling, he revealed, stood at 43% approve and 51% disapprove. “That’s not a great number,” Winston stated bluntly.

“Having said that,” he added, “let’s go back to 2016,” when exit polls following the general election showed Trump’s favorability rating stood at 38% favorable and 60% unfavorable.  “Think about that — with a 60% unfavorable, we still carried the Ohio Senate, the Pennsylvania Senate, and the Wisconsin Senate seats.

“So his job approval is not a good number … [But] the fact that Ron Johnson could carry Wisconsin with a candidate at the top of the ticket with a 60% unfavorable is a pretty remarkable outcome.

“Having also said that, the dynamic here is you don’t want to have people focused on the job approval.  You want them focused on the accomplishments.  That’s the key element, and that’s the responsibility of everybody here – making sure people understand what we have accomplished.”

Winston concluded by returning to the issue that, he said, will be key to winning over the electorate this year – cost of living.  “It’s important to understand that people are looking at their own bottom line,” he stated.

To view the remarks of Winston and Miller before The Ripon Society’s Senior Staff Symposium on May 11th, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

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