POLITICS
01/23/2018 06:08 pm ET

The GOP Tax Law May Be Growing A Little Less Unpopular

Some polls show ratings rising for the legislation, while others suggest less of a shift.
Carlos Barria / Reuters

When Republicans passed a historically unpopular tax bill last year, they were banking on the legislation gaining support before this November’s midterm elections.

Several new polls seem to suggest that support for the law is modestly increasing, although the finding is by no means unanimous. Most surveys show opposition to the tax overhaul still outstripping support

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll found about 37 percent of Americans backing the law, up from 28 percent in December. And although it didn’t ask about the legislation directly, a recent CNN/SSRS survey found President Donald Trump’s approval rating on taxes rising to 42 percent, an 8-point increase since December.

“The tax overhaul that Mr. Trump signed into law just before Christmas remains relatively unpopular and highly polarizing. ... But support for the law has grown significantly over the past month, and more Americans believe that they will receive a tax cut,” Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley wrote in The New York Times last week. Their survey found one of the largest shifts.

But other tracking surveys found less movement.

“So far, there has been little overall change in Americans’ majority disapproval of the law or in their views of Congress,” Gallup’s Frank Newport reported earlier this month. “The law’s passage did appear to spark a modest improvement in Republicans’ views of Congress, although it did nothing to affect the quite negative attitudes of Democrats. Similarly, Republicans’ views of the law itself edged up from a month ago when it was still being debated, but a majority of all Americans continue to disapprove.”

HuffPost

After the bill was passed, many pollsters changed their wording in questions about it. The SurveyMonkey/New York Times poll, for example, switched from asking about “the Republican tax reform proposal” to asking about “the tax plan that was passed in December.”

To test whether shedding the word “Republican” could help nudge support for the law upward, the HuffPost/YouGov poll divided respondents into two groups, with half asked about the “tax reform law recently passed by Congress” and the other half about the “Republican tax reform law recently passed by Congress.” The overall results were inconclusive, suggesting that if the word “Republican” has a partisan effect in this context, it’s not a particularly substantial one. Although the group that didn’t get a partisan cue rated the law a few points higher, perceptions of the effect the law would have on them personally were about the same in the two groups.

Averaging the results between the two groups, the HuffPost/YouGov survey found that just 21 percent of Americans expect the law to make things worse for them, down from nearly one-third in December. About one-third now expect it to make things worse for average Americans, down from 41 percent. 

Still, public polling this January shows the tax law viewed unfavorably overall, with about 37 percent approval and 43 percent disapproval ― numbers that don’t appear auspicious enough to give Republicans much of a boost in November. The Affordable Care Act, which passed with about 42 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval in March 2010, went on to bedevil Democrats in that year’s midterms.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Jan. 19-20 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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