The Hill just released a set of polls in which voters in 10 battleground districts were asked if they support the extension of the Bush tax cuts. When asked if they favored or opposed the "extension of the Bush tax cuts," responses broke along party lines, with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in favor, a somewhat smaller majority of independents in favor, and a large majority of Democrats opposed.
However, when asked if they would favor extending tax cuts only for families earning less than $250,000 a year, the response was almost exactly the same among all three groups--two-thirds of Democrats, two-thirds of independents, and two-thirds of Republican are in favor of extending the cuts only for families earning less than $250,000 a year. What poll respondents probably don't realize is that the latter question is exactly what the President and the Democrats are proposing.
Reid, Pelosi, and the Democrats could have used this fact as an opportunity to force Republicans to vote on an extension of tax cuts for the wealthy, exposing them to the ire of the American middle class, and to the hypocrisy of calling for deficit reductions while adamantly opposing the expiration of unneeded tax breaks. But it seems the Republicans' messaging campaigns, as usual, are just better executed, regardless of the lack of actual support for their policies.
Senator McConnell has the messaging down: keep blaming the Democrats for spending, spending, spending, while completely ignoring the fact that tax cuts are contributing to the deficit. Make the middle class think that the Democrats are trying to tax them more by portraying them as avid taxers, even though that is the opposite of the truth. And even as House Minority Leader Boehner conceded that "If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I'll vote for it," he was immediately rebuked by Senate Republicans, who seem to know that they have the edge in the messaging campaign to keep Americans confused about how these tax cuts actually work.
Images: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (CBS News)