Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report: Is Politics Returning to Politics? Part II - The Budget War

Americans Agree that Biggest Causes of Budget Deficits are Recession and War/Terrorism Spending, but Then Split on Whether to Blame Tax Cuts or Domestic Spending for the Rest of the Deficit Problem

Between February 1 and February 3, 2002, Ipsos-Reid U.S. Public Affairs interviewed a representative sample of 803 U.S. registered voters nationwide by telephone. The margin of error is +/- 3.5%.

Washington, DC (February 5, 2002) - Americans split evenly on whether to blame tax cuts or domestic spending (to improve education and extend unemployment benefits) as the bigger cause of the federal budget deficit. Most Americans (79%) recognize that the federal government will have a budget deficit this year. Most (61%) say that spending to win the war on terrorism is one of the causes of the federal budget deficit, and nearly half (45%) say that a decline in revenue caused by the recession is a big cause. After the war and terrorism, however, the old tax cuts vs. domestic spending divisions remain just below the surface as the focus of blame for deficit spending.

Groups most likely to say that accelerating tax cuts planned for next year in order to jump start the economy is one of the most important causes of the federal budget deficit include:

  • Those who say they definitely will vote for someone other than President Bush (40%)
  • Democrats (30%)
  • 18-34 year olds (26%)
  • Non-Whites (26%)
  • Those who live in the Northeast (26%)

Groups most likely to say that extending unemployment benefits and spending to improve education are one of the most important causes of the federal budget deficit include:

  • Those with a high school education or less (25%)
  • Those who say they would definitely vote to re-elect President Bush (22%)
  • Republicans (21%)
  • Those with children (21%)

The nearly unanimous willingness of Americans to agree to deficit spending in the current circumstances does not mean there will be no blame game on deficit spending. In fact, the less-well-educated, parents and Republicans, to name three important and disparate groups, blame domestic spending more than the tax cuts for deficits. On the other hand, young people, non-whites, northeasterners and Democrats blame the tax cuts. And the division between those who blame domestic spending (20%) and those who blame tax cuts (21%) reflects the same pattern of closely divided politics that defined the 2000 Election.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos-Reid U.S. Public Affairs, the Washington, D.C.-based division of Ipsos-Reid, which is part of the world's fourth largest polling and market research organization, the Ipsos group, based in Paris. Ipsos-Reid U.S. Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective public affairs research organization made up of Democratic and Republican campaign and political polling veterans. It was established in Washington in August 2001, and it is led by Thomas Riehle, who has more than 15 years of experience as a political pollster in Washington.

The political survey is designed in conjunction with Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report. Founded in 1984, The Cook Political Report is an independent, non-partisan newsletter that analyzes elections for the U.S. House, Senate, governor and President as well as domestic American political trends. The New York Times has called the publication, "a newsletter that both parties consider authoritative" while the dean of the Washington political press corps, the Washington Post's David Broder has called Charlie Cook, its editor and publisher, "perhaps the best political handicapper in the nation." Cook also writes two weekly columns that appear in National Journal magazine and CongressDaily/AM and on nationaljournal.com, and serves as a political analyst for Cable News Network's show "Inside Politics." Researched and written by a staff of five based in Washington, D.C., the Cook Political Report's subscribers are primarily the lobbyists and managers for the political action committees of the nation's major corporations, trade associations and labor unions as well as by news organizations, foreign governments and others with an interest in detailed, impartial information and analysis of Congressional, gubernatorial and presidential elections.

To view the complete media release and tables, please download the PDF file.

To view the latest poll results and research from Ipsos Public Affairs please go to: http://www.ipsos-reid.com/us/media/content/pre_rel.cfm

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