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Tax cuts, candidate wealth: What matters to voters?

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Jeremy Hobson: The presidential race this week can be summed up in a few words: Outsourcing, wealth, taxes, and, as usual, jobs. Which brings us to Attitude Check — our weekly partnership with Gallup.

Frank Newport is editor-in-chief at Gallup and he joins us now. Good morning.

Frank Newport: Good morning.

Hobson: Well, President Obama made another push this week for extending the Bush tax cuts just for people who make less than $250,000 a year — we’ve heard this time and time again. Frank, how is this argument playing with the American public?

Newport: Well, as we say in the polling biz, that is poll-tested. Our latest asking of the question, do you want taxes to go up on those making $250,000 or more, the majority, 59 percent, said yes. I’m not sure that, in and of itself, is going to be a major factor because American’s priority for reducing the gap between the rich and the poor is very low — that’s not what they are mainly interested in. I think the question is, if taxes are increased on those making more money, does that help the overall economy and the overall jobs situation.

Hobson: Yeah and now there’s another big line of attack this week coming from the Obama campaign: Mitt Romney has put his money in accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands. What kind of an effect does that sort of highlighting, shall we say, of his wealth have?

Newport: What we asked simply was his wealth per se, we reminded the voters in our recent poll that Romney is worth $200 million or more. We said, does that fact that he’s this rich make you more likely or less likely to want to vote for him? 75 percent of Americans said, no difference. But there’s 20 percent, one out of five, who said it makes a difference. And a lot of those are democrats, who are not going to vote for Romney anyhow, but there are some independents in there who do tell us that Romney’s wealth makes them less likely to want to vote for him. 

Hobson: And one thing we haven’t heard much about this week, before I let you go, is the jobs report last week — the disappointing jobs report from the Labor Department. Is that having any affect on people’s view of President Obama’s handling of the economy?

Newport: We can’t see much change at all. You know, we track daily Obama’s job approval, we track daily would you vote for Obama or Romney the famous trail heat, we track economic confidence on a daily basis, and we’ve really seen no change since that report came out. So at least in the short term, it doesn’t seem to be moving the needle one way or another on American’s perceptions of the president.

Hobson: Frank Newport is editor-in-chief at Gallup, thanks as always.

Newport: My pleasure. 


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