MEMORANDUM: NATIONAL SURVEY ON THE DEBT CEILING

MEMORANDUM

DATE:       JUNE 13, 2011
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 N=804 registered “likely” voters across the country. Interviews were conducted June 5-8, 2011, and the margin of error on a sample of this type is +/- 3.5%.

DEBT CEILING

Necessity of Debt Ceiling Increase

The American electorate is fairly divided on the question of the necessity of raising the debt ceiling, with forty- eight percent (48%) indicating they believe it has to be raised, and forty-two percent (42%) indicating they believe it does not have to be raised. Intensity is even on both sides of this equation, with 32% indicating they strongly believe it must be raised and 34% indicating they strongly believe it does not have to be raised.

Would you say that the U.S. debt limit (ROTATE) has to be raised OR does not have to be raised?

Has to be Raised                     Does Not have to be Raised

All                                                                 48%                                                             42%

Men                                                              51%                                                              43%
Women                                                        45%                                                             42%

White                                                           46%                                                             44%
African American                                      70%                                                             22%
Hispanic/Latino                                        46%                                                             46%

18-44                                                            48%                                                             46%
45-64                                                            50%                                                             41%
65+                                                                44%                                                            42%

GOP                                                              31%                                                             60%
DEM                                                             67%                                                             24%
IND                                                               45%                                                             44%

Across the board, male voters are more likely to believe that the debt ceiling must be raised than women voters. The gap between men and women stands at 5 points among Independents, 8 points among Republicans, and 14 points among Democrats.

Options for Dealing with Debt Ceiling

June ‘11
Raise limit without amendments: 13%
Raise limit with spending cuts: 39%
Not raising the debt limit: 42%

A majority of Republicans (54%) and a plurality of Independents (44%) indicate that they are opposed to any option for raising the debt ceiling. Hispanic/Latino voters are also crystallized against any construct to raise the debt ceiling, with fully 52% of Hispanic/Latino voters indicating they are opposed to any form of increase in the debt ceiling.

Views on raising the debt ceiling are also driven by population density. Among rural voters, 51% are opposed to any sort of increase, while this drops to 42% among suburban voters, and to only 35% among urban voters across the country.

Support for the proposal to increase the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts is highest among working women, 18-54 year old women, voters who are invested in the stock market, and voters who are most concerned about the issue of economy/jobs. It is also worth noting that support for this position increases as the education level and/or the income level of the respondent increases.

Greater Concern on Spending Impact

The impediment to support for a proposal to raise the debt limit in exchange for spending cuts is the concern that Congress will NOT CUT ENOUGH, and not that they will cut too much.

Only thirty-one percent (31%) indicate that their biggest worry about a political deal on the debt limit is that Congress would cut spending too much. Fully sixty-two percent (62%) indicate that their concern is that Congress will not cut spending enough.

This concern is broadly held across the electorate. Even among partisan Democrats, 40% are most concerned that Congress would not cut spending enough, and only 49% indicate they are most concerned that Congress would cut spending too much. Fully sixty-five percent (65%) of Independent voters and eighty-two percent (82%) of Republicans indicate that their greatest concern is that Congress would not cut spending enough

Most Impacted by Default

Fully two-thirds of the electorate, sixty-six percent (66%) indicate they believe that small businesses and average Americans would be most impacted if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and defaulted on loans to other countries. Only 21% believe that Wall Street and big business would be most affected.

Even among the most “financially sophisticated” parts of the electorate – college graduates, voters with more than 10K invested in the stock market, voters with over 100K in annual income – only 25% believe that Wall Street and big business would be most affected, and 60% believe that small businesses and average Americans would be most impacted by a default.

A majority of voters, fifty-four percent (54%), indicate they would be more likely to vote for a Member of Congress who voted to increase the debt ceiling “if significant spending cuts were also put in place.” Thirty- two percent (32%) indicate they would be less likely to vote for this Member of Congress, and 3% indicate this issue would not make any difference to them.

Partisanship does not have much impact on this measure, with 51% of Democrats, 54% of Independents, and 58% of Republicans indicating they would be more likely to vote for a Member of Congress who supported an increase in the debt ceiling with significant spending cuts in place. This is also the case for 54% of self- identified conservatives and Tea Party supporters.

Gender and age have no impact on this question, but support for this candidate increases with the education level of the respondent, rising to a high of 58% more likely among college graduates.    Even among those voters who indicate that spending is the number one issue, 58% indicate they would be more likely to vote for this candidate.

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