Republicans Don’t Understand Why People Don’t Like Them

There’s a story in the right-wing Washington Examiner saying that Republicans are alarmed that their tax cuts aren’t more popular.

In a fresh NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted jointly by Democratic and Republican pollsters, the law was underwater: 27 percent approved, 36 percent disapproved. Those results track with private data Republicans have monitored, sparking anxiety about their chances of surviving a tough November election with their House majority intact.

“Republicans have a lot of work in front of them to make sure people understand the benefits of the tax bill, and nobody is going to be driving this but them. They need to understand that it’s not just — we’ve done this, let’s go on to the next thing,” said David Winston, a GOP pollster who advises House and Senate Republicans.

“The signature achievement for Congressional Republicans for this Congress will have been the tax bill — no matter what else they do,” he added.

They are blaming Trump for being off message.

“People aren’t talking about it enough, and when people aren’t talking about it enough, that’s a problem,” Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Tuesday, of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. “Our guys need to be talking about the tax bill more; that’s one of the things that I talked about in conference this morning.”

However, a poll taken in March found that 52 percent of working adults say they aren’t seeing any increase in their paychecks, which may tell us something about why talking about the tax cuts isn’t going to help. The tax bill doesn’t seem to be winning hearts and minds; a Gallup poll found 39 percent approval for it in February and April. No change.

Last February the Koch Brothers put a bunch of money into television ads aimed at Claire McCaskill for not voting for the tax increase. Here’s one, featuring a nice white family who have a very nice home. I saw a few of them, and then they stopped running. I suspect they weren’t moving the needle.

Last month Eric Levitz wrote that the tax cut bill was more popular in January, right after it passed, and then fell in popularity in February, which was when people were supposed to start seeing more money in their paychecks.

Republicans could blame the public for its ignorance on this front. Or, they could also blame themselves for giving massive tax breaks to the wealthy, and “so small they could be erased by your rising health-insurance premiums” tax breaks to working people.

The New York Times, also last month:

At Slyder’s Tavern, Matt Kazee, a machinist, drank a couple of beers as he waited for burgers to take home for dinner. His tab was about equal to the increase in his take-home pay after President Trump’s tax cut found its way into the nation’s paychecks.

“I have seen a little uptick in my paycheck, about what I expected, about 30 bucks,” said Mr. Kazee, who voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 before backing Mr. Trump in the 2016 election. “It felt to me about like where things were 15 years ago.”

His underwhelmed reaction was not what Republicans had in mind. The white working-class voters in the industrial Midwest who helped put Mr. Trump in the White House are now seeing the extra cash from the tax cut, the president’s signature domestic policy achievement and the foundation for Republican election hopes in November.

But the result has hardly been a windfall, economically or politically. Other workers described their increase as enough for a week’s worth of gas or a couple of gallons of milk, with an additional $40 in a paycheck every two weeks on the high side to $2 a week on the low. Few are complaining, but the working class here is not feeling flush with newfound wealth.

Republicans really thought that throwing a few bucks at the little people would hand them the midterms on a plate. Remember Paul Ryan’s tweet about the secretary who got a whole additional $1.50 a week? It’s kind of hard to fake being a populist when you are clueless about the people.