ConservativeHome’s weekly poll of grassroots conservatives reveals that middle class Republicans are largely pessimistic about their economic future but don't believe redistribution is the answer.
Instead, they want lower taxes on their own income, lower taxes on businesses, and an environment friendlier to new firm creation.
We polled 1,038 self-identified conservative Republicans last week about the middle class and its prospects. Respondents, all of whom are members of our Republican Panel, were identified for the panel by YouGov.
Three quarters of respondents consider themselves middle class or lower middle class, and 70% think their financial situation in 2011 will be the same or somewhat worse than 2010. And yet:
- Only 1% think unemployment benefits should be more generous, and 4% think inequality should be addressed by having the rich pay their fair share.
- 74% think that personal income tax rates should be lowered, and 57% think corporate income taxes should be lowered.
The politics of class resentment clearly don't play well among conservatives.
Like most Americans, conservative activists largely consider themselves middle class:
- 54% say they are middle class
- 21% say they are lower middle class
- 15% say they are upper middle class
- 9% say they are low income
- The rest, a small percentage, either said they were wealthy or poor
The majority of respondents believe that their financial situation will either remain the same or be worse in 2011 compared to this year.
- 41% say they expect their financial situation to be about the same next year as it was this year
- 29% say they expect their financial situation to be worse next year
- 16% say they expect their financial situation to be somewhat better next year
- 9% say they expect their financial situation to be a lot worse next year
- Only 4% say they expect their financial situation to be a lot better next year
When asked how lawmakers can help improve the prospects for ordinary families, respondents did not favor the class-warfare preferences of the liberal elite, but preferred rather conservative policies. They were asked to select their top 3 preferences.
- 74% prefer lower personal income taxes so that household disposable income increases
- 57% prefer lower corporate taxes so that firms have more money to hire people
- 44% prefer changes to regulations so that it's easier to start small businesses
- 31% prefer to reform the health care law to make health care less expensive
- 30% prefer to reduce the deficit by reforming Social Security and Medicare
- 18% prefer making it easier to save for the future
- 16% prefer reforming elementary and secondary education so the nation's young people are more equipped for tomorrow's jobs
- 8% prefer making rules for banks and investors clearer so they start investing more
- 6% prefer making it easier to refinance mortgages so fewer people default
- 4% prefer making it easier for more people to go to college or get a professional degree
- 4% prefer spending more government dollars on large infrastructure projects to create construction and technology jobs
- 4% prefer reducing inequality by making sure the wealthy pay their fair share to help the middle class and poorer families
- 1% prefer providing more generous benefits such as unemployment insurance