Memorandum: Voters set budget expectations

February 12, 2012

DATE: February 13, 2012
TO: Public Notice
FROM: The Tarrance Group
RE: Key Findings From National Survey

The Tarrance Group is pleased to present Public Notice with the key findings from a survey of voter attitudes nationwide. These key findings are based on telephone interviews with N=800 “likely” registered voters throughout the country.    Responses to this survey were gathered February 6-8, 2012. In 95 out of 100 cases, the confidence interval associated with a sample of this type is + 3.5%.


New polling shows voters continue to place great importance on the economy and spending, therefore it is no surprise that more than eight in ten (84%) voters find it extremely or very concerning that the U.S. Senate has not passed a budget in nearly three years.    This level of concern is high across the board, reaching 93% among Republicans, 85% among Independents, and 74% among Democrats.

Considering the U.S. Senate has not passed a budget in nearly three years and the President will release a budget today, it is also no surprise that voters have strong opinions on the issue of the federal budget. Specifically, there is a significant gap between what voters hope is in the President’s budget and what they expect will actually be in the budget. While 75% want to see President Obama’s budget cut spending, only 31% expect it to actually cut spending. Also, while 62% want to see his budget reduce taxes, only 24% expect the budget to reduce taxes.

Similarly, voters were presented with two views on growing the economy, and they most favored the option of lower spending and taxes.

While more than eight in ten voters (85%) say the economy is extremely or very important for our leaders in Washington to focus on, they are not expecting President Obama’s budget to have a significant positive impact on the economy.    Only 28% believe President Obama’s budget is extremely or very likely to improve the economy in the next two to three months, and less than half (41%) say it is extremely or very likely to improve the economy in the next two to three years.

Along with the economy, voters also place strong importance on government spending (79% say this is extremely or very important) and the debt (80%), likely driven by the fact that 73% believe the economy is extremely or very impacted by the debt.

Interest is high in the nation’s political process at this point in the 2012 election, with 92% of voters extremely or very interested in the election, and 72% saying they are following news from Washington extremely or very closely. At the same time, voters remain pessimistic about the country’s direction – 59% say things are off on the wrong track, 55% feel “mostly negative” about the economy, and 57% believe the federal government hurts economic growth.


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