BUSH AND TAXES….I was surfing

BUSH AND TAXES….I was surfing around the Web last night and happened to come across the exit polling data for the 2000 election, and it was pretty interesting to look at it two years into the Bush presidency. It’s not that there was anything all that startling in the breakdowns, just that it clarified a few home truths a little more forcefully than usual.

In particular, the exit poll results really crystallize the political imperatives behind Bush’s economic plan:

  • People who thought the economy was going to get worse voted for Bush 52%-45% and people who thought that being trustworthy “mattered most” voted for him by a whopping 80%-15%. Worriers who put their faith in someone are likely to turn like jackals if they feel mislead or lied to, so he really has to appear to be doing something if he wants to keep from losing the votes of these people. Thus the necessity for a “bold,” “much bigger than expected” economic program.

  • Among people who thought taxes were the most important issue in the election, 80% voted for Bush. No other issue even came close to dividing the electorate this strongly for either candidate.

  • As the chart shows, Bush’s support rose linearly with income level. So: a big economic program that emphasizes tax breaks and aims them disproportionately at the well-off makes perfect sense. In a way, he didn’t really have any other choice if he wanted to avoid wholesale defections among aggrieved core supporters.

And Pickering and affirmative action? Well, Bush won a majority of the popular vote in only one region: the South. Enough said.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation