Republicans wanted to make their tax cuts the centerpiece of their 2018 midterm strategy, but it doesn’t look like it worked.
According to an exit poll conducted by CNN, NBC, ABC, and other major news outlets, few midterm voters believed that the GOP tax law benefited them:
- 28% of people surveyed said the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has helped them.
- 45% reported no impact.
- And 23% of people said the TCJA has hurt them.
In the run up to the passage of the TCJA, Republicans were convinced that the bill would be a political winner. But over the course of 2018, polls routinely showed that the tax reform was unpopular. Eventually GOP candidates and groups pared back their advertising around the law.
An internal GOP poll obtained by Bloomberg showed that the party had admitted that Republicans lost messaging battle over the TCJA.
While most Americans will receive a tax cut from the law, not many people have filed taxes under the new system which could have blunted the impact. At the same time, the GOP’s promises of a boom in business investment and wages has not materialized.
On the other side, Democrats were able to convince voters that most of the tax laws benefits will go to wealthier Americans and corporations. The internal GOP poll found that 61% of Americans believed that corporations and the wealthy got more of the benefit than the middle class. Also, the TCJA’s massive addition to the federal deficit became a major talking point for Democrats.
Weeks before Election Day, President Donald Trump even announced that a new tax cut for middle class Americans is on the way — a move that took GOP leaders by surprise. Many analysts said that amounted to an implicit admission that the TCJA was not the political winner that the GOP expected.