The Obama Coalition: How the 'Buffett Rule' could help the president in November

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The “Buffett Rule,” the provision President Obama has pushed for months that would require people who make more than $1 million a year to pay at least 30 percent in federal income taxes, is almost certain not to pass when the Senate votes on it Monday, as almost all Republicans oppose it.

The White House, of course, already knows this. But the provision, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett (who pays a lower percentage of his income in taxes than his secretary because of how the current tax code is structured) could help accomplish another of Obama’s goals: winning a second term.

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The core message of the Buffett Rule, that the rich should pay more in taxes, is likely to resonate strongly with the core groups of Obama’s political base — blacks, Latinos, young voters and independents. A poll last week by Gallup found that 63 percent of independents supported the Buffett Rule, compared to just 33 percent who opposed it. (74 percent of Democrats like the rule, while 54 percent of Republicans oppose it.)

More broadly, polls suggest blacks, young voters and Latinos may respond more positively to a populist, tax-the-rich message than voters overall. In a survey earlier this year, the Pew Research Center asked if people thought the wealthy are rich because of “their own hard work, ambition or education,” or because they were born into a wealthy family or “know the right people.”

About 46 percent of Americans overall cited the “right people” answer, while 43 percent said it was hard work. But among blacks (18 points), Hispanics (13 points) and younger voters (11 points), the gap was much wider in the belief that wealth was not simply the result of hard work.

This article is the second in a series of pieces on “The Obama Coalition,” the key blocs in the electorate, African-Americans, Latinos, independents and voters between ages 18-30, whose shift in either turnout or overall support for Democrats in 2008 helped elect the first black president. We will examine if those groups are likely to support Obama as intensely again

Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr