Sunday, October 19, 2008
John McCain now says it's socialism, but Barack Obama insists, "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Forty-four percent (44%) of voters agree with Obama's statement while 42% disagree in a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Democrats think their candidate is right, but 78% of Republicans disagree.
While Obama was campaigning recently, a plumber's assistant named Joe Wurzelbacher asked the Democratic presidential nominee a critical question about his tax policy. Obama defended the policy, saying in part, "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." McCain brought the incident up in the final presidential debate last Wednesday, and "Joe the Plumber" suddenly was a central figure in the closing days of the presidential campaign.
A majority of those who earn less than $40,000 a year agree with Obama about spreading the wealth around, while most of those who earn more than that disagree. Entrepreneurs are strongly opposed while a slight plurality of government employees agree.
Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters under 30 agree with Obama's statement while 33% disagree. A plurality of those over 30 take the opposite view.
Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters have been following news stories of Joe the Plumber somewhat or very closely. Among those following the news story, just 40% agree with Obama's statement, and 47% disagree.
Forty-four percent (44%) of voters have a favorable opinion of Joe the Plumber, while another 41% have an unfavorable opinion and 15% are not sure. Among those following the story, the numbers for Joe are 58% favorable and 37% unfavorable.
As with just about everything touched by the presidential campaign, the responses divide sharply along partisan lines. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Joe while 64% of Democrats express an unfavorable view.
The surprising star of the Presidential debate is a hit with middle income voters. Among those earning $40,000 a year to $100,000, 52% have a favorable opinion of Joe the Plumber while 33% offer an unfavorable assessment.
Those who earn less than $40,000 a year are less impressed-just 39% have a favorable opinion of him while 44% provide an unfavorable review.
Those with a higher income have an even lower opinion of Joe-35% favorable, 52% Unfavorable.
Fifty-seven percent (57%) of entrepreneurs have a favorable opinion of the man who wants to someday buy his own business.
Given a choice between the two presidential candidates and Joe, 44% say Obama is the one who best understands the economic realities they face. Twenty-nine percent (29%) named McCain and 19% Joe the Plumber.
Some, including former Arkansas governor and unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, have suggested that if McCain wins, he'll have Wurzelbacher to thank for it.
McCain is currently trailing Obama in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
McCain has clearly been hurt by the nation's economic problems and his inability to articulate a solid response over the past month. It is possible that coverage of Wurzelbacher's exchange with Obama, spread nationally by YouTube, has helped in that regard: A plurality of voters (48%) believes that McCain or Joe the Plumber better understand their situation better than Obama does.
Eighty-five percent (85%) of Republicans say either McCain or Joe the Plumber best understands the realities they face. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Democrats say Obama does. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 50% pick McCain or Joe while 38% name Obama.
Among voters who earn less than $40,000 annually, 50% say Obama understands their reality better than the others. Fifty-two percent (52%) of those who earn more than $100,000 a year say the same. But, among middle-income Americans, those earning $40,000 to $100,000 annually, 58% say that either McCain or Joe the Plumber best understands their situation. Just 35% say Obama does.