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Tax Law Still Unpopular but Gaining Ground

Posted on February 1, 2018 by Jonathan Curry

The tax law’s public image could still use some help, but some recent polls suggest Republicans have a reason for optimism.

Monmouth University poll released January 31 found that while the public is evenly split on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97), with 44 percent approving and 44 percent disapproving, those numbers nonetheless indicate a spike upward in approval from the previous month, when only 26 percent of respondents viewed the law favorably.

“The president devoted a significant amount of the State of the Union address touting a growing economy and his new tax plan. While there is still some way to go to really win over the public, it looks like the needle has moved in the Republicans’ direction since passage of the tax bill,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, concluded in Monmouth's report.

That poll was conducted January 28-30, with most of the responses received before President Trump’s January 30 speech to Congress, according to the report.

Trump and Republicans in general have invested a great deal of effort in promoting the tax cuts as a boon to the economy at large and to ordinary Americans, often by touting corporate announcements of pay raises or bonuses paid to employees and attributing them to the tax cuts. Conservative groups are similarly investing millions of dollars in a public campaign this year to reshape the tax cuts' public image ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

The trend reflected in the Monmouth poll has also appeared in other polls released in January, albeit in a less pronounced way.

Huffington Post/YouGov poll found roughly 37 percent of respondents supported the tax law in mid-January, up from 28 percent in December. Likewise, an early January poll by The New York Times and Survey Monkey indicated that 46 percent of those surveyed supported the law, up from 37 percent the previous month, with 49 percent disapproving.

More broadly, a CNN/SRSS poll indicated an 8 percentage point bump for Trump on the question of his handling of taxes, from 34 percent in support in December to 42 percent in January.

Gallup poll conducted during the first week of January suggested a more muted trend, showing approval of the tax reform bill increasing from 29 percent in early December to only 33 percent the following month.

In a January 10 report, Gallup’s Frank Newport splashed cold water on the GOP’s hopes of a tax cut turnaround if workers expect bigger paychecks this year, writing that if “there is any anticipation of that eventuality among Americans, it is not highly evident in the available data so far.”

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