If the GOP pushes the economy over the fiscal cliff, the party will go over too. The longer Republicans push for tax breaks for bankers and billionaires, the more trouble they'll get themselves into. Republicans have enough problems morphing into the Tea Party, now the GOP is becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the Fortune 500.
The Election Day national exit survey demonstrates the fact that the GOP doesn't have a good message for Americans who worry about the economy. The voters have spoken and the poll tells us what they have to say about the economy and taxes. Republicans will not like what they hear.
Voters heard the questions that Mitt Romney asked about the president's handling of the economy, but the GOP nominee didn't follow up with the answers. It should have been a plus for the challenger that almost half (45 percent) of the voters felt the economy was "not so good." However, a majority (55 percent to 42 percent) of these distressed voters actually went for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. Another illustration of the GOP's failure to address middle class economic concerns was that nine of 10 voters (90 percent) who gave the economy a positive rating voted to re-elect the president but only six out of every 10 (60 percent) voters who gave the economy a negative rating voted for his challenger.
Cutting taxes doesn't cut it for Republicans. There were more voters who worried about unemployment (38 percent) and rising prices (37 percent) than there were who concerned about cutting taxes (14 percent). The good news for the GOP was that voters who worried about taxes voted overwhelmingly for Romney. The bad news was that there were too few of these voters to make much of a difference in the outcome. Along the same lines, almost half (47 percent) of the voters wanted to raise taxes on the wealthy and another small group (13 percent) favored raising everybody's taxes. That's six out of 10 voters who are open to raising taxes to stabilize the economy. Only a third (35 percent) of the voters wanted to hold the line on taxes.
The failure of Romney and the GOP to come up with anything but cutting taxes leaves Republicans in the lurch. Nature abhors a vacuum and the party's neglect of jobs and inflation gives voters the chance to fill that vacuum with their feelings about the last Republican president. This isn't good news for Republicans because a large majority (53 percent to 38 percent) of the electorate blames George W. Bush not Barack Obama for the condition of today's economy.
Voters want to fight a class war and the president's populist approach to the economy is just what they wanted. Trickle-down economics was a disaster for Romney and will continue to tarnish the Republican brand if the party doesn't craft a more comprehensive economic message. More than half (53 percent) of the voters feel that the American economic system favors the rich and only a third (34 percent) think the system is fair to all Americans. A majority (55 percent to 39 percent) of voters also believe that Romney's policies would have favored the rich over the middle class. A fifth (21 percent) of the voters wanted a president who cares about people and those voters supported the incumbent overwhelmingly (81 percent to 18 percent).
The party's fixation on taxes means the GOP is riding a one trick pony into the ground. The debate on taxes only focuses attention on the GOP's inability to come up with anything new. Old habits die hard so President Obama doesn't have to worry that Republicans will come up with something that works better.