Entries in ABC News Washington Post Poll (3)


Poll: Most Back Sequester Cuts Overall, But Not for Military

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For all the dire warnings, most Americans welcome a five percent cut in overall federal spending this year. But the defense budget is another matter.

The public by nearly 2-1, 61-33 percent, supports cutting the overall budget along the lines of the sequester that took effect last Friday. But by nearly an identical margin, Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll oppose an eight percent across-the-board cut in military spending.

See a PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

These views come before the $85 billion in cuts this year have taken hold, leaving open the question of how the public will respond once the reductions hit home. Nonetheless, the results suggest that warnings about the nation’s military readiness have resonated, while the public is more skeptical about the damage the sequester poses to federal programs more generally.

Support for a five percent reduction in federal spending crosses party lines in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates; it includes 57 percent of Democrats, six in 10 independents and three-quarters of Republicans. Shaving eight percent off the military budget, on the other hand, is opposed by 73 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of independents, with Democrats split down the middle.

Strength of sentiment also lands squarely in favor of overall budget cuts, and against those to the military. Strong support for overall cuts outpaces strong opposition by 15 percentage points, while it’s the opposite, by 25 points, when it comes to military spending.

Republicans feel more strongly about reducing overall spending, with 55 percent strongly in favor, 19 and 34 points greater than strong sentiment among independents and Democrats, respectively. Republicans and independents more strongly defend the defense budget compared with Democrats, by 25 and 16 points, respectively.

CUTS – The public’s willingness to cut federal spending overall likely reflects continued concerns about the deficit, as well as frustration with Washington’s ongoing budget wrangles. In an ABC/Post poll in January nearly nine in 10 Americans rated reducing federal spending as a high priority for the president and Congress, in the mix with other top issues such as restoring the economy and restructuring the tax system.

However, a December ABC/Post poll during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations found that majorities didn’t want to cut military spending in order to reach a budget agreement. (Most also opposed cutting Medicare, which also is hit by sequestration, and Medicaid and Social Security, which are spared the sequestration cuts.)

ABC/Post polling also has found a continued preference for a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit, as well as greater approval for Obama vs. the Republicans in Congress on handling federal spending, as reported in an ABC/Post poll last week. That suggests risk for both sides, but particularly the GOP, if the mood over sequestration cuts turns sour.

It’s worth noting, too, that support for budget cuts in general may be easier to express than support for cuts in particular programs -- again raising the question of the direction of public attitudes as specific cuts take hold.

There have been different estimates of the extent of sequestration cuts this year; the figures of five percent in total, and eight percent of military spending, were reported by The New York Times on Feb. 21.

GROUPS – In addition to partisan divisions, there are differences on views of the cuts among ideological and other groups. Liberals divide on both kinds of across-the-board spending cuts, while nearly six in 10 moderates and just more than seven in 10 conservatives support overall cuts and oppose military cuts. Among those who say they’re “very” conservative, almost two-thirds strongly favor overall cuts and strongly oppose those to defense.

Among other groups, men are 16 points more apt than women to support reducing the federal budget overall, and support for cuts generally also is higher among whites vs. nonwhites and college graduates vs. those with less education.

There’s also an interesting dynamic among income brackets. People earning less than $50,000 a year are less supportive of overall budget cuts, compared with better-off adults.  But on military spending, views differ -- support for cuts peaks among wealthier Americans, those with incomes of $100,000 or more.

Finally, this poll finds support for overall cuts nine points higher when the question comes after asking about military cuts (66 vs. 57 percent) -- majorities in both cases, but suggesting more acceptance of overall cuts if the military takes a hit, too. On the other hand, views on military cuts are similar regardless of question order.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Flat Tax Outpaces 9-9-9 in Poll, Notably Among Conservatives

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A flat tax like the one proposed Tuesday by Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry engenders a split decision in public opinion -- if not the warmest reception, a better one than the public’s broader disapproval of his rival Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan.

While a flat tax divides the nation overall, it resonates most strongly in a group of particular interest to Perry -- “very conservative” Americans, a key GOP voting group. They hold favorable views of a flat tax by a broad 68-28 percent in an ABC News/Washington Post poll, suggesting a strategic rationale for Perry’s initiative.

More broadly, there’s greater division: Americans overall split by 47-48 percent on the notion of a flat tax -- that is, removing most income tax deductions and charging all taxpayers the same tax rate, instead of charging higher rates on higher incomes. That’s almost identical to the 48-48 percent split on a flat tax in a different ABC/Post question back in August 1996.

Views are more lopsided on Cain’s idea of setting the federal income tax, business tax and a national sales tax at nine percent each. Americans by a 20-point margin, 56-36 percent, hold an unfavorable opinion of the 9-9-9 plan. And intensity runs against the idea: it’s seen as “strongly” unfavorable rather than strongly favorable by a 3-1 margin, 35 percent vs. 12 percent.

While partisan and ideological divisions mark these views, so do other factors in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. In both cases, for example, the new tax approaches are significantly more popular among better-off adults, those in $100,000-plus households, vs. those with annual incomes of $50,000 or less.

In the better-off category, 58 percent favor a flat tax system; that drops to 44 percent among people with incomes less than $50,000. And while fewer than half of wealthier adults, 49 percent, like 9-9-9, that falls to 33 percent in the lower-income group.

Politically, favorable views of a flat tax peak at 56 percent among Republicans, but subside to 46 percent among independents and four in 10 Democrats. The 9-9-9 plan, for its part, doesn’t win majority backing in any of these groups. It’s seen unfavorably by 50 percent of Republicans, rising to about six in 10 Democrats and independents alike.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP More Satisfied with Presidential Candidates, But More Divided Ideologically

Russell Tate/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans steadily express more satisfaction with their party’s declared candidates for president, yet with a sharp division between conservatives and moderates that could portend challenges when it comes time for the party to coalesce around its ultimate nominee.

Among conservative Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a commanding 39-21 percent lead over Mitt Romney in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Yet among moderates the tables turn: Romney leads Perry, 35-12 percent.

There being more conservatives than moderates in the party, it’s advantage Perry. Yet, in a challenge to party cohesiveness, fewer than eight in 10 Romney supporters -- 78 percent -- say they’d support Perry in a general election race against Obama. More Perry supporters, 91 percent, say they’d back Romney were he the nominee.

Even with that challenge, Perry’s posting some impressive results. Thirty-seven percent of his backers “strongly” support him; Romney’s strong support is much lower, 15 percent, and down sharply, from 29 percent in July. And views of Perry as the candidate best able to defeat President Obama in November 2012 have grown among leaned Republicans from six percent in July to 30 percent now. Romney in the same time has lost 12 points on this score, and now trails Perry.

These two lead the field with or without Sarah Palin in the race. And while Palin plays out her adaptation of Hamlet -- to run, or not to run -- she faces continued deep challenges as a would-be candidate. Sixty-three percent of Americans see her as unqualified to serve as president, including 46 percent of leaned Republicans and 42 percent of supporters of the Tea Party movement. Those are large numbers to lose on the basic question of qualification for office.

Perry, Romney and five other declared candidates -- not Palin -- meet in a debate Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. It’s their first since Perry entered the race in mid-August and promptly advanced to the front rank in support.

This poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, finds Perry with 29-percent support among Republican and Republican-leaning independents and Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, with 25 percent, with all other declared candidates well behind.

In another notable result, Rep. Michele Bachmann, after a summertime gain, has ebbed from 16 percent support in July to eight percent now.

With Palin included there’s little change; a 27-22 percent Perry-Romney contest, with 14 percent for Palin, a former Alaska governor and the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee. Her support, and Romney’s, have been essentially flat this summer, while Perry’s moved up sharply.

It’d be easy to paint these results as portraying a Perry-Romney race, and currently it is. But provisos are in order: Forty-six percent of leaned Republicans don’t pick either of these two. Both their strength-of-support levels indicate plenty of room for movement. And the future is always uncertain; at this time in 2007, Rudy Giuliani was the clear leader, with the eventual nominee, John McCain, 10 points back, and indeed a point behind former Sen. Fred Thompson, who proceeded to drop off the charts.

The general election, 14 months off, is equally uncertain. But given his growing weakness, President Obama’s support has softened in most head-to-head matchups. He runs essentially evenly against Perry and Romney alike, and has lost ground against others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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