WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans want the Bush tax cuts extended for everyone, despite a strong push by President Barack Obama to eliminate them on higher incomes, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.
The poll found 52 percent of registered voters saying they want all the tax cuts extended, including the tax cuts for incomes above $250,000, while 43 percent want the cuts extended just for incomes below that threshold.
All of the tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31. Republicans want to extend them all. Obama wants to continue only those on income below $250,000 annually, and he vows to veto any move by Congress that would continue the higher-end tax cuts.
“The money we’re spending on these tax cuts for the wealthy is a major driver of our deficit,” he said last week as he worked to make it a major issue in his re-election campaign.
Yet some of the strongest support for extending all of the tax cuts came from some of Obama’s most reliable supporters, such as young voters, minorities and the poor and working class.
Young voters ages 18-29 favored tax cuts for everyone by a margin of 69-29, the largest margin of any age group.
Latinos favored tax cuts for all incomes by 62 percent to 36 percent. Whites supported tax cuts for every income by 50 percent to 44 percent. African-Americans split, 48 percent for limiting the tax cuts to incomes below $250,000 and 47 percent for extending them to all incomes.
And those making less than $50,000 supported tax cuts for all incomes by 53 percent to 41 percent.
“For all three groups, there’s a fairly large gap in their support for Obama and how they’re reacting to the tax proposal,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College, which conducted the poll. “It may call attention to how connected they are to the proposal itself.”
Recent surveys show the presidential race tight, and this latest poll is no different. Obama edged presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney by 2 percentage points, 48 percent to 46 percent. He led among African-Americans 78 percent to 15 percent, among young people 74 percent to 20 percent, among Latinos 67 percent to 28 percent, and among women 55 percent to 40 percent.
Romney, meanwhile, bests the president among voters ages 60 and older by 57 percent to 36 percent, among whites by 55 percent to 39 percent, and among men by 52 percent to 40 percent.
But the Obama and Romney advantages among certain slices of the electorate belie the fact that on issues, like who would best handle the economy or foreign policy, the divide between them is much closer, with the president only slightly ahead, according to the poll.
They also share similar splits on likability: 49 percent of the voters have a favorable view of president, while 46 percent don’t; 46 percent like Romney, but 42 percent don’t.
Independent voters are likely to be pivotal in November, and the poll gives Romney a boost. Overall, they favor him, though not by much.
Miringoff said that most telling was that neither candidate so far draws support of 50 percent or more on any of the “fundamental” questions that determine elections.
“The race was close yesterday, it’s close today and it probably will be close tomorrow,” he said, “and it may even be close on Election Day.”