Even Obama Voters Get Tax “Blues”

Is another state turning curiously “red” as the economy tanks? Call it a case of the tax and spend “blues.” In “blue”-leaning California, it may be that even liberal voters have had enough—even the voters who reside in the most notorious bastion of liberal thinking on earth, the San Francisco Bay Area. And it may be that independent voters, a voting block President Obama must woo to squeak by next November, have also had enough. As a majority of California voters voice their support of a long-standing tax reduction measure here, are they saying they’ve had it with Obama and have the tax “blues”?

At issue is California’s infamous Proposition 13, written by the indomitable Howard Jarvis. Those of you of a certain age will remember his picture on the cover of Time magazine in 1978, when he lead a fiercely popular grassroots movement to reduce the overwhelmingly high property taxes that were forcing homeowners, especially retirees on fixed incomes, out of their homes. Now there is talk by some prominent Democrats in the state—such as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa—to pick away at Proposition 13, particularly as it relates to commercial property owners, in a move to raise more tax revenue.

But a stunning poll just released shows that a majority of California voters—even Democrats, those who are identified as having “union status”, and those who actually still “approve” of Obama’s job performance—would vote in favor of the Proposition 13 tax cut if it were on the ballot today. That is, these Democrats and liberals would soundly vote in favor of keeping the state legislature from increasing their property taxes to fund tax and spend programs, even as Obama is calling for tax hikes nationally to justify his stimulus and jobs bills.

Released on Friday (9/23) by the highly respected Field Research Corporation, the poll data shows that California voters would still favor the Proposition 13 tax reduction measure if it were on the ballot today by more than a 2-to-1 margin, with 63 percent in favor and 29 percent opposed. The greatest support by party registration comes from Republicans, who back it by 78 percent.

A deeper analysis of the poll, however, shows that voters are willing to cross party lines to hang on to a tax reduction measure. In fact, the poll reveals that more than a majority of California Democrats, 53 percent, would vote in favor of the tax reduction. Even a greater number of independent voters, a block Obama needs to survive, back the tax reduction measure by 63 percent.

When broken down by “political ideology”, an overwhelming majority of voters who are identified as “conservative,” as expected, favor the tax reduction measure. But surprisingly the poll shows support for the tax reduction measure, this time by “middle of the road” and even “moderate liberal” voters. These more liberal voters back the Prop. 13 tax reduction by an astounding 58 percent. Only those voters identified in the most extreme category, “strong liberal,” show less than majority support, at 40.5 percent.

Another interesting source of support comes from “union” voters—those who are identified as having a “union status.” The poll reports that these “union” voters would vote in favor of the tax reduction measure by 56 percent.

And almost incredibly, San Francisco Bay Area voters, probably the most liberal voters in the state, also favored the Prop. 13 tax reduction measure, by 56 percent.

Most telling, however, is that even voters who “approve” of Obama’s “job rating” still favored voting for the tax reduction measure by a majority, supporting it by 53 percent (compared to the 73 percent support by those who “disapprove” of Obama’s job rating). In other words, a majority of voters in California who still approve Obama’s job performance would reject state tax and spend policies when it comes to increasing taxes on their homes and property.

This poll proves to be a fascinating reality check for Obama. The results show that even moderately liberal, “union” affiliated, pro-Obama voters in California will draw a line in the sand when it comes to tax increases. The lesson is that even Obama cannot count on Democrat voters who approve of his job performance to robotically and unwaveringly support his tax and spend policy. These seemingly liberal voters simply will not support an increase in certain taxes—in this case, increased property taxes—even if it means that the groups these voters typically support, such as unions, will not receive the benefit of another tax hike. The upshot of the poll is that even liberal voters have their limits.

What does this mean for Obama? Is this just part of the larger trend of a referendum on Obama’s tax and spend policies? The last two recent special elections resulted in Republicans picking up a Democrat-controlled Congressional seat in New York, and also winning a seat in Nevada. Poll results (Washington Post/ABC, 9/6) show dismal approval ratings for Obama’s performance with the economy—a 62 percent disapproval rate, which is oddly, almost exactly the same number as those who support California’s tax reduction measure. Finally, a new Gallup poll (9/22) reveals that this is the first time in Obama’s presidency that a majority of Americans (53 percent) blame Obama—not only President Bush as the White House spin doctors would like us to believe—as responsible for the economy’s downturn.

Even if one argues that raising property taxes is not the same as raising other types of taxes, given the increasingly flimsy support that Obama has on the political front and the state of our failing economy, it appears that in California, even Obama voters have the tax and spend “blues.” And unless Obama does something to change his tax policy, that could translate into a resounding “no” to Obama next November, when he very well might be defeated by a candidate who doesn’t need a reality check from his or her own core voters to know when to stop taxing and spending our country into economic ruin.