Do voters really care about Donald Trump's tax returns?

A Fox News poll, unlike others, suggests voters are pretty meh on Trump tax returns
(Image credit: Fox News/YouTube)

For months, polls have shown that voters, by substantial majorities, want Donald Trump to release his tax returns, in keeping with the tradition of every modern major party presidential nominee in decades. A Quinnipiac University poll from late August, for example, found that 72 percent of likely voters (including 62 percent of Republicans) wanted Trump to release his tax returns, and 62 percent of voters told Monmouth University pollsters the same week that it was somewhat or very important that Trump show his returns. And more anecdotally, some 70 Trump backers in Florida and Ohio told CNNMoney in mid-September they think Trump should release his returns.

So you can see why CBS News elder statesman Bob Schieffer was aggressively skeptical of the claim from Trump advocate Leslie Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general, before last Monday's debate that "no one other than those in the media and those on the left are asking, 'Where are these tax returns?'"

On the other hand, on Sunday night, Bret Baier pointed to a new Fox News poll of 911 likely voters suggesting that voters are more "meh" on Trump's taxes. According to the poll, taken Sept. 27-29, 52 percent of voters say Trump keeping his tax returns private is "no big deal," while 46 percent said it bothers them. The consensus from Baier's panel was that the new New York Times report on Trump potentially avoiding paying federal income tax for up to 18 years is not good news for Trump but won't pry away any of his base:

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The polling numbers might change after the Times report, but as The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza said two weeks ago, Trump's tax returns are pretty low on the list of concerns voters have about Trump. Cillizza pointed to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that found 52 percent of voters are concerned about Trump not releasing his tax records, but that ranked among other concerns, his taxes falls way below Trump's temperament, disparagement of women and minorities, and praise for Russia's Vladimir Putin.

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us