WASHINGTON ― Senate Republicans look at their tax bill as a key win for the GOP ― a sweeping rewrite that Republicans can point to proudly in upcoming elections. But there’s one big problem lawmakers are ignoring: Voters don’t like the bill.
In poll after poll, more voters say they oppose this tax proposal than support it. According to FiveThirtyEight, of the nine largest tax bills over the last 36 years ― two of which were strictly tax increases ― this Republican measure ranks dead last, with its approval rating underwater by an average of 14 points.
But that would apparently be news to GOP senators. As they race to pass the bill, they either don’t know, don’t care or don’t trust data suggesting their legislation will be far from a saving grace next November.
When HuffPost asked Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) why the bill has polled so poorly, he said that was because “it hadn’t been written yet.”
“We’re not through yet,” Cornyn said, noting that Senate Republicans still intend to go to conference over the legislation with the House. But he also said that some of the hostility toward the bill existed because “people have just lied about it and misrepresented what’s in it,” and he suggested the polling was faulty.
“I can show you a poll for anything,” he said.
That was a common reaction among Republicans. Rather than their having drafted an unpopular bill, they just think the polls are wrong.
“Depends on who does the polling,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Thursday. “I don’t know much about reporting, but I know how to read a poll.”
Kennedy said he had seen polls showing that the bill was “very popular,” and he suggested there were methodological issues with surveys indicating otherwise. “Depends on how you ask the question. Depends on what your sample is. Depends on whether you use landlines or cell phones,” he said. “You can make a poll walk, talk, do whatever you want.”
There is some variance in polling on the tax bill. But the legislation has consistently tested poorly with the public.
At least one GOP senator suggested that it was more important to poll well with Republicans in particular.
“It depends on what universe you’re after,” Sen. Jim Inhofe told HuffPost. “If you’re talking about Republicans, they are for it.”
Inhofe, who comes from the deeply red state of Oklahoma, said this bill was probably the first or second most important piece of legislation to Republicans,…