Dwindling

02.21.13

The Public and the Sequester: Obama's Side, Mostly

The key finding from the new Pew poll that's whipping around the Twittersphere this morning is that 76 percent of respondents favor a balanced approach to bringing down the deficit. Only 19 percent back the Republican position of no taxes at all.

Now it is true that within the 76 percent, most favor a scheme that would have more cuts than revenue. This is fine. But the point is that three-quarters of the public supports a combined approach. So how can Boehner stand up there, and McConnell and all of them, and say they are representing the American people on this? They plainly are not. At 19 percent support, their position isn't even the position of all Republicans.

Conservatives are focusing on the question where 70 percent say action on the budget deficit is "essential this year." But I found that result a little misleading as respondents were given just four choices: deficit reduction, climate change, gun control, immigration reform. The opposite of deficit reduction is government investment to spur job growth. I'd guess deficit reduction would still win that, but I think it would be pretty close.

The poll also finds that people are more likely to blame Republicans for the sequester kicking in by 49 to 31 percent. Here's one number you won't hear many Republicans talking about: The number of respondents willing to call themselves Republicans is down to 22 percent. Democrats, 32 percent. You can browse through all the numbers here. The long and short of it is that Obama's positions range from popular to meh, but that no Republican position on any issue has the backing of a majority of the country--respondents want an assault weapons ban, for example, by 56 to 41 percent. Most GOP positions are backed only by...the dwindling percentage of Republicans.