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Focus Groups Reveal That Some Democratic Voters Prioritize the Ultra-Wealthy Tax Among the Many Provisions in Build Back Better

Most Don’t Want Build Back Better Plans to Be Pared Back

Washington, D.C. | Dec. 16 – According to HIT Strategies focus groups conducted in early November, many Democratic voters don’t want any Build Back Better initiatives eliminated from the final legislation. Though most found it difficult a choice to eliminate any provision, many indicated they would prioritize a tax on the ultra-wealthy, a measure they believe will fund the other components of the Build Back Better legislation. 

The popularity of such a progressive tax structure was apparent in HIT Strategies’ two focus groups; one group was young base voters (under age 34, voted in 2020 and 2018), and the other was Black surge voters (African American, ages 30 to 55, voted in 2020 but not in 2016 and 2018). For both groups, one of the most necessary provisions in Build Back Better is “a tax on billionaires to make them pay their fair share.” Though a billionaire tax is unlikely to make it into the final bill, a corporate minimum tax and a tax surcharge on millionaires could make it to Biden’s desk—and enjoy a similar level of popularity.

When asked which provisions of Build Back Better that they were willing to give up, many were hesitant—they didn’t want to cut any of them. But, as one surge voter said: 

“Just as a blanket statement, [items] one through 11 are non-negotiable. This is a list. It was like a forced choice. It was hard to make a choice.”

– Surge Voter

Two other surge voters identified a tax increase on billionaires as the most important item on the list; one expounded, arguing that the tax hike paid for the rest of the programs. In these voters’ minds, a tax on the wealthy and big corporations could prevent a reduction in the scope of Build Back Better. And in HIT’s November BlackTrack, the latest iteration of our monthly poll of Black voters, we found that a diverse set of programs in Build Back Better attained high priority. When asked to assess a list of the bill’s provisions and rank their top three priorities, Black voters put a value on a range of initiatives across different issue areas:

  • Assistance for low- and middle-income homebuyers: 35%
  • Rebuilding water infrastructure and replacing lead pipes: 35%
  • Addressing climate change: 32%
  • Investing in R & D, with priority investments in HBCUs: 31%

“The voters Democrats need to turn out—from their vibrant young voters to infrequent voters to Black voters—don’t want to see Build Back Better get hacked at,” said Terrance Woodbury, founding partner of HIT Strategies. “And they believe taxes on the rich and powerful can preclude negotiations on programs they see as non-negotiable.” 

Quotes From Focus Groups 

“…just to see all of these guys coming together to make things better in their individual industries. And these politicians who are lobbyists that are in the pockets of these major titans of corporations, I definitely think that they should be reformed in these industries.” – Black male, Surge voter, on labor strike messaging framework 

“Well, I like the banning the no-knock warrants and chokeholds for federal officers. I like the tax credit for the middle-class  families, the child tax credit, that money in the pockets of families every month.” – Mixed-race Female, Surge voter  

“What I’m really hearing is they’re trying to reach an agreement on this infrastructure bill, which is being held out by two Democratic senators, from my understanding, which is so infuriating. And everybody is trying to appeal to their constituents, I guess, and make sure that they get the votes. But as a result, there’s just so many self-interests at play, and at this rate it’s just, it’s exhausting and demoralizing.” – Young White Woman, Base Voter 

“I think there’s a lot of uncertainty and not a lot of information on where to go with that or what to do or why. And I think a lot of that starts with the infrastructure bill and getting that sorted and having some kind of certainty with what’s going to happen next just overall for this administration, after the kind of dumpster fire that was going on before.” – Young White Man, Base Voter 


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