4/3: Job Creation Trumps Deficit Reduction As Priority

Morning Joe/Marist National Poll

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.

Click Here for Complete April 3, 2013 USA Morning Joe/Marist Poll Release and Tables

“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.

By party:

  • 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.

Table: Top Priority for the Country

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.

Table: Whether Congressional Republicans or President Obama has the Better Approach to Deal with the Deficit 

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.”

By party:

  • 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.

Table: Method to Reduce the Federal Budget Deficit

Table: Deficit Reduction by Limiting Tax Deductions on Higher Incomes

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.

By party:

  • 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.

Table: More Important to Protect Gun Rights or Control Gun Violence

Table: The Strictness of Laws Governing the Sale of Firearms

Table: Favor or Oppose Legislation that Would Ban Assault Weapons

Table: Favor or Oppose Legislation that Would Require Background Checks for Private Gun Sales and Sales at Gun Shows

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample