Michael Tesler, in a guest post at the Monkey Cage blog, looks at how partisan attitudes on the deficit are shaped by who's in power:
Back in December 2007, politically attentive Democrats were 20 percentage points more likely than politically attentive Republicans to say that the federal budget deficit was at least a very important issue. Four years later, though, the most politically attentive Republicans were now a whopping 60 points more likely than their Democratic counterparts to say the deficit is very important.
Contrary to some recent media claims that the deficit is an issue average Americans care about, it appears that public perceptions of the debt’s importance are fundamentally linked to which party is making it an issue. These results are consistent with research showing that Americans’ issue positions are often consequences rather than causes of their vote choices and help explain why increases in the federal budget deficit do not significantly predict vote tallies in national elections.