Thursday, June 9, 2011

Issue Polls Without Partisan Debate Tell Us Nothing

This Pew poll showing majority support for higher taxes and less defense spending has been making the rounds:





But we shouldn't be too excited about these figures, because these issues aren't being exposed to partisan demagoguery at the moment. Before John McCain made a campaign issue out of Obama saying that we should "spread the wealth around", most Republican voters responded favorably to poll questions about redistribution (they were less supportive of the concept than Democratic voters, but still reasonably supportive). Afterward, there was a sharp drop in Republican support for such ideas. Likewise, support for the vague concept of "health care reform" cratered after the Obama administration took up the issue. Undoubtedly, the moment the President said he wanted to raise the Social Security cap, Republican voters would decide it was the worst idea since Hitler invaded Poland.

The best thing you can say about this poll is that tax increases and defense cuts are more popular than other ways out of our budget mess, such as cutting Medicare or education.
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