Okay, we now have our first poll measuring the impact on the
Democratic base of Obama's support for a temporary extension of all the
Bush tax cuts. Suffice it to say this is a major, make-or-break issue
with them that could have real political ramifications for the President
and Congressional Democrats.
The poll, done by the respected non-partisan firm Survey USA,
surveyed over 1,000 people who contributed time or money to Obama in
2008, and found intense, overwhelming opposition among them to Obama's
support for a temporary extension of the tax cuts for the rich. This
supports the notion that there may indeed be a serious liberal revolt in
reaction to it.
Indeed, majorities of people who contributed to Obama in 2008 say they are less likely to support Obama and Democrats because of his backing for the temporary extension.
I got an advance look at the poll, which was commissioned by MoveOn, and you can read the polling memo right here. The key findings:
The poll shows clearly that these contributors are deeply opposed (74%) to a deal
with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax breaks for those making
over $250,000 a year. The depth of opposition to a deal is severe with
former Obama contributors saying that they are less likely (57%) to support Democrats who support this deal in 2012.
A majority of the former Obama contributors surveyed also say that the President's deal also makes them less likely (51%) to contribute to his reelection campaign in 2012.
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So 57 percent of Obama contributors say they are less likely to
support Congressional Dems for reelection if they back the temporary
extension, meaning there could be a political cost for Dems for
embracing it. And more than half, 51 percent, say they are less likely
to shell out cash for Obama's reelection in 2012, suggesting it could
damage his ability to turn out the same coalition that elected him in
These findings goes directly to the heart of a question that
commentators are starting to ask: Does the left's anger matter? Will it
have any impact? No doubt some will argue that it can only help Obama to
anger the left.
But clearly there's also a real risk that this kind of deal -- and
the broader strategy the White House appears to be embracing -- could
further demoralize the base. While Adam Serwer is right to note
that over time passions on the left could subside, particularly if
Obama delivers on other core liberal priorities such as the repeal of
don't ask don't tell, it's also perfectly possible that trading away
core liberal priorities will levy major political costs on Obama and
Democrats in general.
UPDATE, 12:18 p.m.: In fairness to the White House, it should
be noted that this poll was taken yesterday in the lead up to the final
announcement of the deal. So it's possible that some of the specifics of
the deal -- the extension of unemployment benefits and other
concessions Obama won -- might end up mitigating this somewhat. That
said, it has been widely known for days that the centerpiece of this
deal would be a temporary extension of all the cuts, and this poll does
show overwhelming opposition to that central concession by Obama. I've
edited the above to reflect this.
UPDATE, 12:39 p.m.: I'm told the poll was actually conducted
beginning at 6:17 p.m., around the time of Obama's announcement, and for
a few hours after that. So it's perfectly possible this could partly
reflect reaction to the deal itself.