Almost two-thirds of Americans — 64% — want Congress and President Barack Obama to agree that creating jobs should be the top priority for the nation. 33%, however, think reducing the federal deficit should be at the top of their agenda, and 3% are unsure. Similar proportions of registered voters share these views.
“Closing the budget deficit may be the driving force in Washington, but the jobs picture is the public’s main concern,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
- More than three in four Democrats — 76% — say Congress and the president should first tackle job creation while 21% say the deficit should be the priority.
- However, a slim majority of Republicans — 51% — disagree and want deficit reduction to be the focus. Still, 46% of Republicans think job creation should be priority number one for Congress and President Obama.
- Looking at independent voters, 60% want Congress and the president to agree that job creation should be the country’s top priority while 36% say paying down the deficit should be first addressed.
Americans Divide over Who Has Better Plan to Deal with the Budget Deficit
While 44% of adults nationally think President Obama has the better approach to deal with the federal budget deficit, four in ten residents — 40% — believe the Republicans in Congress have the better plan. Nine percent say neither the president nor the Congressional GOP has the proper vision to take on this issue. Only 1% reports both have an appropriate plan to tackle the deficit and 6% are unsure.
Among registered voters nationally, 43% believe the president has the better approach while 42% say the Republicans in Congress do. Nine percent think neither has the appropriate plan while just 1% reports both have a clear path to reduce the deficit. Five percent are unsure.
Not surprisingly, there is a partisan divide.
- 78% of Democrats believe President Obama has the better approach to reduce the federal budget deficit.
- Looking at Republicans, 81% say the Republicans in Congress are better prepared to deal with the issue.
- There is little consensus among independent voters nationally. 40% say the Congressional Republicans’ plan is stronger while 39% think the president has the better approach.
Spending Cuts or Increased Revenues?
When it comes to how the budget deficit should be reduced, more than four in ten Americans want a combination of reduced spending and increased revenues. 42% say government spending should be cut and revenues should be increased. 35% think revenues, including limiting tax deductions on higher incomes, should be mostly increased while 17% want mostly cuts to government spending, including entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid. Six percent are unsure.
“A plurality of Americans prefer both spending cuts and added revenues as a strategy to close the deficit,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “By two to one, people think added revenues makes more sense than cutting spending if only one path is pursued.”
- Nearly half of Democrats — 48% — favor revenue increases. 41% are for both revenue increases and spending cuts while only 6% want spending to be reduced.
- More than four in ten Republicans — 41% — believe the best approach is to cut spending and increase revenues while 32% want expenditures to be slashed. Just 21% prefer increasing revenues.
- A plurality of independent voters — 46% — think a mixed method of spending cuts and revenue increases is the best way to reduce the federal budget deficit. 31% say increasing revenues is the way to go while 18% favor spending cuts.
What about the tax rate? In January, the top federal tax rate for a family income of more than $450,000 was raised from 35% to nearly 40%. With that, a majority of adults nationally — 56% — say they are neither more nor less likely to support reducing the deficit by limiting tax deductions on higher incomes. 22% are more likely to support closing tax loopholes for Americans with higher incomes while 18% are less likely to back such a plan given the increase in the tax rate earlier this year. Four percent are unsure.
Bump in Those Who Prioritize Controlling Gun Violence over Gun Rights
On the issue of gun violence, a majority of Americans — 53% — believe it is more important to control gun violence than to protect gun rights — 44%. Three percent are unsure.
There has been a slight increase in the proportion of U.S. residents who put the impetus on controlling gun violence. When this question was previously reported, 49% of Americans said this should be the priority. 48% disagreed and reported that protecting gun rights was more important. Three percent were unsure.
Among gun owners in the United States, 63% currently say it is more important to protect gun rights. 34% think controlling gun violence is the key, and 3% are unsure.
The views of registered voters nationally reflect those of Americans, overall. 54% of voters prioritize controlling gun violence over protecting gun rights — 43%. Three percent are unsure.
- 77% of Democrats believe controlling gun violence is the key. 22% want gun rights to be protected, and 2% are unsure.
- Among Republicans, 63% think it is more important to protect gun rights while 34% say controlling gun violence should be the priority. Three percent are unsure.
- Independent voters divide. 48% think it is more important to protect gun rights while 48% believe gun control should be the priority. Four percent are unsure.
Six in ten Americans — 60% — want to make the laws governing the sale of firearms more strict. Just 5% would like the laws to be less strict, and 33% want them to be left as they are. Two percent are unsure. Among gun owners nationally, half — 50% — say these laws should remain in their current form. 43% think these regulations should be stricter while only 7% believe they should be relaxed. One percent is unsure. Registered voters reflect the views of Americans, overall.
When it comes to specific gun laws, nearly six in ten U.S. residents — 59% — support legislation that would ban the sale of assault weapons. 37% oppose such a measure, and 4% are unsure. While 51% of gun owners oppose such legislation, 45% are in favor of such a proposal. Four percent are unsure. Registered voters align with the overall population.
Overwhelmingly, Americans support legislation that would call for background checks for private gun sales and purchases made at gun shows. 87% have this opinion while 12% oppose it. Only 1% is unsure.
If Americans could ignore the daily grind of the work day and do a job relatively few people get to do, which profession would they call their “dream job?” Nearly one-third of U.S. residents — 32% — say they would like to be an actor or an actress. Following closely behind are 29% who dream of becoming a professional athlete. 13% report they would like to list 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as their working address and be President of the United States. An additional 13% say they could see themselves as a rock star. 13% are unsure.
Those in the Northeast and South are among those most likely to want to take to the stage or screen. Acting is also the most popular dream job among those who earn less than $50,000 annually, Americans 18 to 29, those 45 to 59, and women.
Professional sports top the list for those in the Midwest and West, Americans who make $50,000 or more a year, residents 30 to 44, those 60 and older, and men.
In a poll that suggests the vast repercussions of the economic crisis, 77% of New York State registered voters say they personally know someone who has lost their job in the last 6 months.
More voters in New York City and in the suburbs say they know someone who has lost his/her job during that timeframe. 82% of city voters and 79% of those in the suburbs report this to be the case. This compares with 74% Upstate.
Slight differences are also apparent among income groups. 82% of people with an income of $100,000 or more say they know someone who’s joined the ranks of the unemployed in the last half-year, while 77% of those making between $50,000 and $99,999 and 74% of those making less than $50,000 say the same.
Table: Personally Know Someone Who Lost a Job
Social Networking and Job Loss…Potential Pitfall?
Social networking may be getting a lot of hype, but it hasn’t yet seduced a majority of New York voters. Only 31% say they personally have a profile on a social networking website such as MySpace or Facebook.
Those who do have a profile divide over whether it’s wise for someone to use a social networking site to tell everyone they have lost their job. 49% say they’re more likely to describe someone who does so as “smart,” but 41% say they’re more likely to call that person, “desperate.” 10% are unsure.
Educational background affects one’s stance on this issue. 55% of college graduates say “smart” compared with 41% of those who aren’t college graduates.
Overall, who is more likely to utilize social networking sites? Voters with higher incomes are more likely to join these online networks. 42% of those making $100,000 or more have a profile, compared with 32% of those with incomes between $50,000 and $99,999 and only 27% of those making less than $50,000.
Not surprisingly, younger voters are more likely to jump on the social networking bandwagon. 54% of those under 45 have a profile, while only 19% of those over 45 have one. On the question of whether they’d call a person who announces their unemployment as “smart” or “desperate,” those under 45 divide while a majority of those 45 and older consider it to be a smart move.
And, social networking has taken the 18-to-29 age group by storm: a whopping 74% of those Web users have a profile on MySpace, Facebook and their ilk.
Nearly 1 in 4 employed Americans — 22% — believe it’s likely they will join the ranks of the unemployed or have their hours cut this year. Among those who are most fearful are women. 26% of women in the workforce believe there is a good chance they will be laid off while 19% of men think it’s likely they will get a pink slip this year.
Where Americans work makes a difference. Employees in the Northeast are least concerned about their future employment status. Just 10% of those residents think it’s either very likely or likely that they will lose their job this year while 27% of those in the Midwest, 25% in the West, and 24% in the South share this concern.
How Long Will It Take to Find a New Job?
Should they lose their job this year, many employed Americans think it will take some time before they will be back to work. Only 38% of workers think they would be able to find a comparable job with similar pay within three months of losing their current job.
Not surprisingly, older co-workers nationwide are less optimistic about their job prospects than are their younger colleagues. Only, three in ten workers 45 and older believe they would find a new position within three months compared with 45% of those younger than 45. One-third of workers 45 and older believe it would take at least a year to find a comparable position should they lose their current job.