Exclusive: Polling shows Republicans will 'go Dem' without tax reform

Exclusive: Polling shows Republicans will 'go Dem' without tax reform
© Greg Nash

As Republican majorities return to Congress this September, they face an existential threat entirely of their own making. Failure to repeal Obamacare and increased uncertainty about the fate of long-awaited tax reform have placed public approval for Congress in the tank. Just 15 percent of Americans approve of congressional performance. That's less than half President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE’s approval rating.

When examining the Republican base’s approval of Congress, the numbers are more alarming. New polling of Republican voters conducted for the Club for Growth revealed that support for Congress among Republicans collapsed from a net positive of 24 points to a net of only eight points after the Senate’s failure on Obamacare. According to the polling, conducted by Fabrizio, Lee and Associates, Republicans risk cataclysmic losses in the midterm elections unless they correct course.

Nationally, one quarter of Republicans already say they will oppose Republicans who refused to support Obamacare repeal. Another fifth of Republican voters say they will support neither Republicans nor Democrats.


The situation becomes even bleaker if Republicans in Congress fail to pass tax reform. Nearly one in five will oppose members if they do not pass tax cuts. Another 25 percent of Republican voters will not support either party — meaning they will likely not vote at all. Because midterm elections are won by the party that gets its base out to vote, control of Congress could swing to the Democrats simply because disaffected Republican voters stay home.


These findings leave no room for confusion. They can be summed up succinctly in three words: Republicans will lose. If Congress does not repeal Obamacare and additionally fails to pass tax reform, 63 percent of GOP-leaning independents say they will vote for Democrats or stay home. Additionally, 68 percent of libertarian Republicans and 59 percent of Tea Partiers will either oppose Republicans who betrayed them on health-care and taxes or not vote at all. These are the very voters who propelled Republicans into a majority in the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

Fortunately, Republicans still have time to turn the ship around and secure victory for the American people.

On tax reform, Republicans of all stripes appear determined to pass major tax legislation by year’s end. The Republican proposals for deep tax cuts for businesses, a competitive international tax structure, and elimination of the death tax are the best chances the country has to solidify sustained economic growth and middle-class job creation. Congressional Republicans have a president ready to sign tax reform legislation, and after thirty years of talking about pro-growth tax cuts, Congress should be ready to deliver.

Best of all, if and when Republicans pass tax and health care reform, they will also win on the electoral front. Club for Growth polling from earlier this summer reveals that repealing Obamacare is a winning issue for Republicans running against incumbent Democrat senators. In Missouri, Montana, and West Virginia — all states in which Donald Trump beat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE handily and a Democrat senator is up for re-election — an average of 57 percent of general election voters are less likely to vote for the Democrat incumbent because they failed to support Obamacare repeal efforts.

Trump’s message in Missouri — challenging Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Ex-Rep. Akin dies at 74 Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE to vote for upcoming tax reform — is precisely what all Republicans should be doing. In 2018, Republican challengers must defeat incumbent Democrats from states Trump carried. This approach would also ensure recalcitrant Republican senators no longer dictate a losing agenda for the entire Republican party.

Republicans can take one of two paths. More of the same will lead to overwhelming defeat in the 2018 midterms. The better path is to pass longstanding priorities like deregulation of the energy and health-care markets and major tax cuts.

Conservatives stand ready to help them secure these legislative victories. In so doing, not only will these policies lead to economic growth and a stronger America — they will show voters that Republicans can and will use their majorities to benefit the entire nation.

Former Rep. David M. McIntosh is president of the Club for Growth, a nonprofit group aimed at reducing government and promoting fiscal responsibility.