West Long Branch, NJ - Americans disapprove of the tax reform plan currently making its way through Congress by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. Half the public believe their own taxes would go up under this plan and a plurality would like to see Congress scrap the current effort and start fresh in 2018. Results of the Monmouth University Poll also indicate there are potential hurdles for selling this proposal to the American public since most feel the middle class has not been seeing any benefits from Pres. Donald Trump's policies so far.
Nearly half the American public (47%) disapprove of the tax reform bills passed by the Senate and House and just 26% approve. Another 8% withhold judgment until seeing the final plan and 19% have no opinion. [ Note: the poll was conducted before the final conference version of the bill was released. ] It is also worth noting that strong disapproval (35%) of the proposal far outweighs strong approval (13%).
The current proposal is significantly less popular than the landmark 1986 tax reform law. A Gallup poll taken in September 1986 when that bill was in the final stages of passage found that 39% of the public approved of the bill compared to 33% who disapproved.
"One of the reasons the current plan may be less popular than the Reagan-era package is that the 1986 bill was seen as a good faith bipartisan effort rather than a purely partisan proposal," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Republicans favor the proposed tax reform plan by a 55% approve to 16% disapprove margin. Democrats (7% approve to 72% disapprove) and independents (20% approve to 53% disapprove) are decidedly negative about the proposed changes. The package doesn't play well in areas of the country that the GOP needs to win in 2018. Opinion of the tax reform plan is divided in "red" counties that Trump won by at least ten percentage points in 2016 - 34% approve and 37% disapprove. In "swing" counties where the margin of victory for either candidate was less than ten points, 30% approve of the plan compared with 38% who disapprove. In "blue" counties that Hillary Clinton won by ten points or more, only 15% approve while 60% disapprove.
"Even though the poll was taken before the conference version was announced, the basic contours of the plan remain the same. Many Americans see this bill more as an attempt by Republicans to gain a political victory and would rather see Congress scrap this plan and start over," said Murray.
Just 17% of the public say the current plan is a genuine attempt to reform the tax system while 35% say the push to pass this is bill is driven mainly by Republicans' desire to obtain a political victory. Another 35% say both reasons are equally at play.
A plurality of the public (39%) would prefer to see Congress scrap this plan and start work on a new bill next year. Just 29% want Congress to work out a deal to pass the current plan. Another 24%, though, would rather see Congress leave the tax system as it is for now.
Half of the public (50%) predict that the federal taxes they pay will go up with the plan now under consideration by Congress. Just 14% say their taxes will go down. Another 25% believe their own taxes will stay the same under this plan. A Gallup poll during the 1986 effort found that slightly fewer Americans (41%) back then believed their own taxes would go up because of that plan, compared to 18% who said they would go down and 30% who expected they would remain the same.
For the current proposal, a majority (55%) of those earning less than $50,000 a year believe their own federal taxes will go up if this plan is passed. They are joined by 45% of those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 and 49% of those earning over $100,000 who say their taxes will go up.
"Right now, the American middle class is not particularly impressed with the current administration's performance on bread and butter issues. A major task for Congressional Republicans and Pres. Trump will be convincing these voters that they will benefit from the plan," said Murray.
Currently, a majority of Americans (53%) say that middle class families have not benefited at all from Pres. Trump's policies. Just 11% say the middle class has benefited a lot and 25% say it has benefited a little. The public was much more optimistic right before Trump took the oath of office in January. Back then, two-thirds expected that the middle class would benefit from the policies of a Trump administration - 26% a lot and 40% a little - while only 29% felt that the middle class would not benefit at all.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from December 10 to 12, 2017 with 806 adults in the United States. The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
QUESTIONS AND RESULTS
(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)
[ Q1-4 previously released. Q5 held for future release. ]
6. How much have middle class families benefited from President Trump's policies - a lot, a little, or not at all?
11% A lot
25% A little
53% Not at all
11% (VOL) Don't know
[ Q7 and Q9-18 previously released. Q8 held for future release. ]
19. Have you heard that the Senate and the House have passed tax reform bills and are now working on a final version, or haven't you heard about this?
25% Not heard
20. Do you approve or disapprove of this tax reform plan? [Do you approve/disapprove strongly or somewhat?]
13% Strongly approve
13% Somewhat approve
12% Somewhat disapprove
35% Strongly disapprove
8% (VOL) Depends on final version
19% (VOL) Don't know
21. Which of the following statements describes this plan more: it is a genuine attempt to reform the tax system - or - Republicans want to pass this mainly so they can claim a political victory, or both reasons equally? [ CHOICES WERE ROTATED ]
17% It is a genuine attempt to reform the tax system
35% Republicans want to pass this mainly so they can claim a political victory
35% Both reasons equally
13% (VOL) Don't know
22. If this new plan becomes law, do you think the federal taxes you pay will go up, go down, or stay about the same?
50% Go up
14% Go down
25% Stay about the same
12% (VOL) Don't know
23. Which of the following would you rather see Congress do: work out a deal to pass this proposed tax plan, scrap this plan and start work on a new plan next year, or just leave the tax system as it is for now? [ CHOICES WERE ROTATED ]
29% Work out a deal to pass this proposed tax plan
39% Scrap this plan and start work on a new plan next year
24% Just leave the tax system as it is for now
9% (VOL) Don't know
[ Q24-32 held for future release. Q33-36 previously released. ]
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from December 10 to 12, 2017 with a national random sample of 806 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 403 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 403 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.
Download this Poll Report with all tables