Poll Shows Americans Want Both Parties to be More Moderate

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Main Street Advocacy Fund released the results of a ground breaking election night poll conducted for the group by Frank Luntz:

MEMORANDUM

 

From:     Frank Luntz

To:         Interested Parties

Date:      November 7, 2012

Re:          What Americans REALLY Voted for on Election Night

 

Yes, Americans voted for gridlock and divided government in 2012.   But they did it as a means and not an end. 

Let us explain.

In cooperation with Main Street Advocacy, Luntz Global, LLC. fielded a one of a kind Election Night survey of 1,300 American voters to identify not just who they voted for, but also to explain:

–         Why Americans voted the way they did,

–         What they want Washington to do next, and

–         How politicians should go about carrying out the will of the people.

The bottom line:

Even as the American people voted for divided government Tuesday night, they sent a clear message: it’s time for a spirit of compromise and a result of real solutions in Washington. 

It’s not that they voted for gridlock because they can’t decide which party to trust.  They did it because they can’t trust either party to govern alone.  The American people want both parties to hold each other accountable to avoid extremism and work together to come together on common sense solutions.

Many are asking today: “what’s the mandate from this election?” Observers should understand that Americans are done with “comprehensive, sweeping change.”  They know it’s just not possible in Washington’s poisoned environment.   They’ve had enough empty promises; now they want real, achievable, and measurable solutions.

The evidence is clear.

A commanding majority of all American voters (62%) said that Washington was in need of leaders with “willingness to compromise to get things done,” compared to just 38% who want leaders with the “courage to stand up for their principles.”  Swing voters want compromise by even wider margins (67% to 33%).

And Americans’ desire for bipartisan compromise isn’t merely a collection of platitudes; it extends to a real policy agenda.

Americans are more divided than ever—but they do agree on one thing: balancing the budget is MORE important than preventing tax increases. And it’s not even close. Fully 69% of Republicans and 68% of Democrats say that balancing thebudget is the more important priority. If it will really reduce the deficit, the American people are willing to put revenue of the table.

There’s broad bipartisan support for the Simpson-Bowles plan. Fully 54% of Republicans, 49% of swing voters, and 50% of Democrats support the Simpson-Bowles plan, while only 10% of Republicans, 11% of swing voters, and 12% of Democrats oppose it. All told, 50% of voters support the plan, with just 11% opposed and 22% neutral.

There’s no doubt that these numbers will change as the American people become more informed of this plan or onelike it.  However, policymakers would be wise to embrace the general tenants of the plan if they hope to gain the backing of the majority of Americans.

Conventional wisdom says that revenue increases of all kinds are off the table for Republicans. Indeed, according to our survey, 69% of Republicans support a “No New Taxes” pledge like that proposed by Americans for Tax Reform, while 30% oppose it.  So it’s true that Republicans generally support the idea of the pledge (though Republican support is by no means monolithic).

However, rank and file Republicans are not as anti-tax-increases-at-all-costs as most believe.  They are willing to consider raising revenue—if it’s part of a serious plan to reduce the deficit.

Fully 35% of Republicans says they would be MORE likely to vote for a member of Congress who breaks a tax pledge to for a compromised that produces a long-term solution to the debt crisis, while only 31% say it would make them less likely.

Even strong Republicans wouldn’t hold it against that member. Fully 33% say it makes them more likely and 33% say it makes them less likely to vote for that member.

Quite simply, it is not the political death some have predicted for Republicans to vote for a tax increase – so long as it is part of a real solution to the debt crisis.

The bottom line is this – and lets us be TOTALLY clear.  Republican voters do strongly oppose tax increases, but they are willing to consider certain tax increases if – and only if – they are part of a more comprehensive definict solution.

Both parties have room to change if they want to truly govern with a mandate from the majority.  Look at how swing voters – those who typically vote for a mix of Republicans and Democrats and who control the electoral outcome – rate the parties.  Let them, as unaffiliated voters, be the referees as to which party most needs to change.

 

Fully 56% of swing voters want the Republican Party to be more moderate, compared to just 24% who think the party is fine where it is. And the margin is even larger for the Democrats. A resounding 60% of swing voters want to see a more moderate Democratic Party, compared to just 20% who think the party is in the right place.  Conclusion: both parties need to come to the middle.

As the Republican Party considers its future, it would do well to heed the results of this poll.  Voters were asked “which do you believe the Republican Party is MOST interested in helping?” (Top 2).  The results:

 

TOTAL

GOP

SWING

DEM

THE WEALTHY…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

   49%

   13%

   45%

   74%

BIG BUSINESS………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

48

19

49

67

HARDWORKING TAXPAYERS………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

26

54

26

10

THE MIDDLE CLASS…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

23

45

24

  9

SMALL BUSINESS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

18

35

20

  7

SPECIAL INTERESTS…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

17

  7

19

23

FAMILIES……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

16

24

16

  8

THE POOR……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  3

  3

  2

  3

 

The longer Republicans fight against tax increases on the wealthy at all costs, the longer they will suffer the cost of being labeled “the party of the rich.”

The evidence of this is abundant.  When asked to choose from a list of 9 reasons (top) who voters might not vote Republican more often, the clear winner (30%) was “they too often favor tax cuts and policies that benefit the rich at the expense of the rest of us,” followed by “they are out of touch with people like me” (21%) and “they don’t care about working and middle class people” (21%).  

 

             Only 15% said it was because “they are too conservative on social issueslike gay marriage and abortion,” and only 11% chose “they want to undermine social security and voucherize Medicare.” 

 

Only one in four voters (27%) favorbalancing the budget “entirely with spending cuts,” with the rest supporting some mix of spending cuts and taxincreases.  The margins are wide even among Republicans, of whom only 36% say the budget should be balanced only with spending cuts.

 

The American people have set for a mandate in this election, even while they have voted for divided government.  The message is clear:

 

            “Democrats and Republicans: we don’t trust either of you to do it alone.  So work together, cooperate, and get it done together.   And begin by proposing a common-sense, middle-ground solution to America’s broken budget.”

 

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Methodology:  Luntz Global, LLC, in cooperation with Main Street Advocacy, fielded this survey on the evening of November 6, 2012.  The survey was conducted online with 900 actual Election Day voters plus an oversample of 400 Republican voters.  The margin of error is 3.27% for the 900 voter sample and 4.9% for the 400 Republican oversample.

 

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