FIGHTING WITH PUBLIC BACKING ON TAXES…. If it seems as if Democratic policymakers engage in debates from a defensive crouch, it’s generally because they assume the public is skeptical about their position. Republicans excel in messaging and demagoguery, so Dems tend to fear voter backlashes, regardless of merit.

But when polls show the public strongly endorsing a Democratic idea, it’s generally a bit of a hint that they have nothing to be afraid of.

On the issue of expiring Bush-era tax rates, for example, Republicans seem awfully confident, but its Dems who have the popular proposal.

On taxes, three in ten believe that the Bush-era tax cuts should be continued for all Americans, according to the new poll released Friday. Just over 50 percent say those tax cuts should be continued only for families who make less than $250,000 a year, as Obama has proposed. Nearly 1 in 5 meanwhile say the tax cuts should expire for all Americans.

The political winds tend to be blowing in the other direction, but this is pretty good news for Dems — on one of the GOP’s biggest issues, just 31% of the country thinks they’re right. In fact, looking through the internals, voters prefer the Democratic plan in every demographic — gender, race, age, income, and region. The only groups who prefer the GOP approach are self-identified Republicans and self-identified conservatives.

In other words, Dems can and should feel like they have the upper hand here. They’re prepared to fight for lower rates for the middle- and lower-classes, while the GOP goes to bat for millionaires and billionaires.

For all the Republican bravado, this seems like a far stronger issue for Democrats. It’s not a bad election-year fight to have.

On the other hand, health care continues to be a problem, with 56% disapproving of the policy. Opposition to the Affordable Care Act has fallen since it passed in March, but only slightly. To its credit, the CNN poll dug a little deeper, though, and found that opposition is not necessarily a matter of right vs. left — 41% disapprove of the policy because it’s “too liberal,” 40% support the new law, and 13% oppose it because it’s “not liberal enough.”

So, when we hear that a “majority” oppose the ACA, keep in mind that a sizable chunk of opponents are actually liberals — not the kind of folks who’ll be inclined to vote Republican in November.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.