new poll released last week by the R Street Institute and National Taxpayers Union found strong opposition across the board to new Internet sales tax legislation like the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act.”

Conducted a month after a Gallup poll that found 57% opposed to the concept, the new R Street-NTU poll also found 57 percent against Internet sales tax bills with just 35 percent in favor, and completed a deeper analysis of several important demographics and messages. PoliticoThe Hill, and even the Drudge Report picked up on it yesterday.

I’ve written about this misguided bill many times before, and earlier this year I quipped that conservatives should “run, not walk” away from it. These new poll results suggest that moderates and liberals should follow them too, if they value elective office.

No matter how it’s sliced, public opinion is strongly opposed to legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act. In addition to a 22 point margin against the law overall, conservatives particularly despise it. Self-described Republicans oppose Internet sales tax legislation by a 38.5 point margin. Those self-identified as voting for Republicans oppose it by a 39.2 point margin, and self-identified conservatives by a 37.5 point margin. A separate survey of likely GOP primary voters found they’re more likely (by a 53.6 point margin) to vote for a candidate that opposes that bill than one who supports it.

But it’s not just conservatives that dislike the bill. Key swing demographics that any politician needs in order to create winning coalitions also oppose it. Suburban voters dislike it by a 21.5 point spread, women under 40 by 12.8 points and independents by 19.6. Even Democrats and self-identified liberals oppose the bill, by a 5.1 and 1.8 point margin, respectively. And when we tested messages in favor of and in opposition to the bill, voters side with anti-MFA arguments much more strongly. The margins ranged between 32 and 35 points against it, or roughly 2:1 against.

If it wasn’t clear before, it sure is clear now that the MFA is bad politics for any member of Congress, liberal or conservative. On top of that, it has always been bad policy, despite the many bogus arguments made for it. It would unwisely allow states to expand their tax and audit authority beyond their borders, impose serious compliance burdens on businesses that sell online, and allow for the imposition of a decidedly “unlevel” playing field by requiring different collection standards for sales made online vs. in-store. It also happens to be opposed by virtually every major conservative policy organization, including those with real expertise in the intricacies of designing tax policy.
The message from this poll is clear: to quote Monty Python, “RUN AWAY!”

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