Republicans say Biden's not focused on infrastructure, but their voters like some of his proposals

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President Joe Biden boarding an Amtrak train with a mask on
President Joe Biden boarding an Amtrak train during the presidential campaign, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Pittsburgh. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
  • Republicans have been bristling at how President Joe Biden is defining infrastructure.

  • Their critique: His package isn't focusing on things that are actually infrastructure.

  • A Morning Consult/Politico poll found over half of GOP voters support funding low-income housing.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A new debate is brewing over President Joe Biden's infrastructure package: What, exactly, is infrastructure?

According to the $2 trillion plan Biden unveiled this week, infrastructure encompasses everything from broadband access to childcare to care workers. Republicans say that's a far cry from rebuilding roads and bridges.

"Our nation could use a serious, targeted infrastructure plan. There would be bipartisan support for a smart proposal," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, the latest liberal wish-list the White House has decided to label 'infrastructure' is a major missed opportunity by this Administration."

The next day, McConnell indicated that the current infrastructure package likely won't get any GOP votes, at least in the Senate. His rhetoric around a sweeping view of infrastructure has been echoed by fellow conservatives like Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, who said in a Fox News interview that the package went into things like pipes, housing, and research - none of which she considers infrastructure.

As The Washington Post's Greg Sargent notes in an opinion column, placing research and development outside of the scope of infrastructure is a departure from previous GOP thinking. Sargent also notes that with Republicans and Democrats increasingly segregated by region, different definitions of infrastructure are taking on a regional divide as well. Biden's infrastructure proposals have a decidedly more urban focus, and of course, Democrats tend to live in cities and dense suburbs.

But while Republican politicians have made clear how they'd like to define infrastructure, what do actual Republican voters think?

What the polling shows about Republican voters' support for Biden's infrastructure proposal

A Morning Consult/Politico poll delved into how 2,043 respondents felt about different prospective aspects of the two-pronged infrastructure package, asking: "To what extent do you support or oppose funding for the following being included in the infrastructure plan being developed by the Biden administration?"

The poll found more than half of Republican voters either strongly or somewhat support funding for increased housing-options for low-income Americans (53%), and almost half do for an extension of the expanded child tax credit (49%). A significant minority do for the widespread availability of electric-vehicle charging stations (40%) and free community college (38%), while research on climate change and universal pre-K accrued the support of more than a third (37% and 36%, respectively).

The proposals that got more tepid support were the extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies (34%) and conversion of transportation sector to run on electric power (28%). Bringing up the rear of the polling were reduced tuition at historically Black colleges and universities (24%) and free tuition at historically Black colleges and universities (14%).

Here's how the answers broke down along party lines:

Conversion of transportation sector to run on electric power

Broadly, 25% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 27% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 40% of Democrats strongly support, while 32% somewhat support

  • 20% of Independents strongly support, while 29% somewhat support

  • 8% of Republicans strongly support, while 20% somewhat support

Research on climate change

Broadly, 38% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 25% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 60% of Democrats strongly support, while 25% somewhat support

  • 34% of Independents strongly support, while 28% somewhat support

  • 14% of Republicans strongly support, while 23% somewhat support

Widespread availability of electric-vehicle charging stations

Broadly, 29% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 30% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 42% of Democrats strongly support, while 31% somewhat support

  • 26% of Independents strongly support, while 31% somewhat support

  • 13% of Republicans strongly support, while 27% somewhat support

Increased housing options for low-income Americans

Broadly, 41% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 29% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 61% of Democrats strongly support, while 26% somewhat support

  • 36% of Independents strongly support, while 32% somewhat support

  • 21% of Republicans strongly support, while 32% somewhat support

Universal Pre-K

Broadly, 31% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 25% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 45% of Democrats strongly support, while 30% somewhat support

  • 29% of Independents strongly support, while 24% somewhat support

  • 15% of Republicans strongly support, while 21% somewhat support

Free community college

Broadly, 37% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 23% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 54% of Democrats strongly support, while 25% somewhat support

  • 34% of Independents strongly support, while 24% somewhat support

  • 18% of Republicans strongly support, while 20% somewhat support

Reduced tuition at historically Black colleges and universities

Broadly, 24% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 24% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 39% of Democrats strongly support, while 29% somewhat support

  • 19% of Independents strongly support, while 25% somewhat support

  • 8% of Republicans strongly support, while 16% somewhat support

Free tuition at historically Black colleges and universities

Broadly, 21% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 17% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 36% of Democrats strongly support, while 24% somewhat support

  • 17% of Independents strongly support, while 15% somewhat support

  • 6% of Republicans strongly support, while 8% somewhat support

Extension of the child tax credit expansion

Broadly, 32% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 30% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 45% of Democrats strongly support, while 29% somewhat support

  • 25% of Independents strongly support, while 30% somewhat support

  • 20% of Republicans strongly support, while 29% somewhat support

Extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies

Broadly, 34% of voters strongly supported this measure, while 25% of voters somewhat supported it.

  • 57% of Democrats strongly support, while 25% somewhat support

  • 27% of Independents strongly support, while 25% somewhat support

  • 10% of Republicans strongly support, while 24% somewhat support

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