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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Pro-Dem Strategy Memo: Romney Damaged by Protect-the-Rich Agenda

The strategy memo below by Bill Burton, co-founder of Priorities USA Super-PAC, is cross-posted from Benjy Sarlin’s post at Talking Points memo:
TO: Interested Parties
FR: Bill Burton, Priorities USA Action
RE: Super Tuesday Memo: Romney’s Agenda for the Wealthy Hurting Him With Those Who Are Not
Mitt Romney’s narrow win in his home state of Michigan was only possible because of overwhelming margins with the wealthiest Republican primary voters. In what has become a predictable outcome during the Republican nomination fight, Romney once again lost voters making less than $100,000 per year.
Between Cadillacs, NASCAR, and $10,000 bets, Romney certainly has done his fair share to demonstrate an inability to understand the economic challenges facing most Americans. But more importantly, Americans understand that Romney’s policies would primarily help himself and other extremely wealthy individuals at the expense of the middle class.
On Wednesday, the Tax Policy Center released its analysis of Romney’s budget-busting tax plan showing that he would provide a new tax cut of $250,000 to those earning over $1 million a year but he would raise taxes on those struggling to get by. His other economic ideas seem designed to simply make life more convenient for the very wealthiest: deregulating Wall Street, rolling back clean air protections, cutting taxes for big corporations and bashing unions.
Romney’s agenda for the wealthy is measurably hurting him with those who are not. In a recent CNN poll, 65% of voters said Romney “favors the rich.” That’s substantially higher than any of his Republican primary opponents. Even John McCain and President Bush did not have such dismal numbers on a similar question. Exit polls have shown him underperforming with middle class votes in every primary so far and general election polls show a decisive majority of Americans believe Romney does not understand their needs.

In the Republican primary, Romney’s road to plurality has been based on running up large margins with the few voters who earn over $200,000 a year and allowing his various rivals to divide up middle class votes. While Romney seems likely to limp to the Republican nomination with this monopoly on the wealthiest voters, he will enter the general election as a millionaire whose nomination was ensured by millionaires after he promised policies to benefit millionaires.
In Michigan, Romney Only Won Voters Making Over $100,000 Per Year. In Michigan exit polls, Romney only beat Santorum among those earning over $100,000 a year. His margin of victory was provided by winning a large majority of voters earning over $200,000 per year. [CNN Exit Poll] In Iowa, Romney Only Won Voters Making Over $100,000 Per Year. In Iowa exit polls, the only income subgroup Romney won was those making over $100,000 a year. [CNN Exit Poll] In New Hampshire, Romney Won Majority Only Of Voters Making Over $200,000. In New Hampshire exit polls, even though he won decisively, Romney only won a majority among voters making over $200,000 a year. His support declined corresponding to each drop in income level below$200,000. [CNN Exit Poll] In SC, the Only Group Romney Won Was Over $200,000. In SC exit polls, Romney only won those earning over $200,000 a year. [CNN Exit Poll] In FL, Romney Won Majority Only Of Voters Over $200,000. In Florida exit polls, even though he won the state decisively, Romney only won a majority among voters making over $200,000 a year. His margin declined corresponding to each drop in income level below $200,000. [CNN Exit Poll] NBC/Wall StreetJournal Poll: Romney Far Under Water on Caring About Average People. In the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released March 5th, 23% of adults feels Romney cares about average people while 46% do not. The 23-point negative is an increase from 15-point negative in January. [NBC/Wall Street Journal, 3/5/12] Pew Poll: Large Majority Believe Romney Doesn’t Understand Their Needs. By a 61-29 margin, voters do not believe Romney “Understands the needs of people like you.” [Pew People and the Press, 2/13/12] ABC/Washington Post Poll: Decisive Margin for President Obama on Protecting the Middle Class. By a 56-37 margin, voters trust President Obama over Mitt Romney on “protecting the middle class.” [Washington Post, 2/5/12] ABC/Washington Post Poll: Romney Losing Support Quickly from Middle and Lower Income Voters. Among those making under $50,000 per year, Romney unfavorable ratings jumped 20 points in the month of January. [Washington Post, 1/24/12] CNN Poll: 65% of Voters Believe Romney favors the rich. According to a CNN poll this week, 65% of voters believe Romney favors the rich. That’s higher than any of his Republican opponents. On a similar question fewer voters believed Republican nominee John McCain and then-Republican nominee George Bush favored the wealthy in their policies. [CNN, 2/16/12; CBS News, 10/23/08; Gallup, 8/26/08] Romney’s Tax Plan Would Cut Taxes for the Rich, Raise Taxes on Poor and Increase the Deficit. According to CNN, “Those making $1 million or more would receive an average tax cut of $250,000, an 8.1% tax rate reduction, while the average American would get $2,800, a 3.5% rate drop.” According to the Hill, Romney’s tax changes, “would tack an extra $3.4 trillion on to budget deficits over the next 10 years, compared to a world where the Bush-era tax rates were extended.” According to CNN, “the bottom 20 percent would see their average federal tax rate increase $149, or 1.3 percent.” [CBS, 3/2/12; The Hill, 2/29/12; CNN, 3/1/12] Romney Proposed Repealing Wall Street Reform. According to Believe in America, Romney’s plan for jobs and economic growth included a proposal to “Repeal Dodd-Frank and replace with streamlined, modern regulatory framework.” [Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth, Pg. 154, 9/6/11] Romney Opposed Air Pollution Rules from Coal Plants and Criticized Other Environmental Regulations. [Foster Daily Democrat, Mitt Romney Op-Ed, 8/27/11; Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth, 9/6/11] In Michigan, Romney has appealed to Republican voters by attacking labor unions. According to McClatchy Newspapers, “Campaigning in Michigan, Romney is striking a far different note on organized labor than his late father did when he chaired American Motors from 1954-1962 and enjoyed good relations with unions. Instead, Mitt Romney is ripping labor unions at every turn. “Once upon a time, labor unions fought to secure important protections for American workers and help our economy grow,” Romney’s campaign said last week. “Unfortunately, today they too often stand as obstacles to growth and fight against the workers they are supposed to serve.” [McClatchy Newspapers, 2/19/12]

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