Poll: Most feel sequester will personally affect them

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Analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus

Congress and President Obama continue to remain at odds on how best to reduce the federal deficit -- causing the automatic spending cuts referred to as the sequester to start taking effect last Friday.



A CBS News Poll conducted as the sequester cuts were about to begin finds that most (53 percent) percent say they personally will be affected by the cuts in the sequester. In addition, most Americans want to cut spending and raise taxes to reduce the deficit.

More Americans blame the Republicans in Congress more for the difficulty in reaching agreement on spending cuts by the deadline. But both sides are urged to compromise.

Impact and Blame

There is plenty of blame to go around for the inability to reach agreement on deficit reduction by the March 1 deadline. Thirty-eight percent of Americans place more blame on the Republicans in Congress for the failure, while 33 percent blame President Obama and the Democrats in Congress more. Nineteen percent volunteer that they blame both sides.

For the most part, America's partisans point their fingers at the other party. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans blame the president and Democrats in Congress, while 72 percent of Democrats blame the Republicans in Congress.

Many Americans expect the budget cuts in the sequester to have a negative impact on the country overall. 46 percent expect the cuts will be bad for the country, because it forces cuts to important programs and services, while 34 percent expect them to be good for the country, because it forces the government to cut spending.

There are differences by party. Forty-six percent of Republicans expect the sequester to have a positive effect on the country, while 60 percent of Democrats think the impact will be negative.

Women (57 percent) are more likely than men (50 percent) to expect to be affected by the cuts in the sequester. Those with lower incomes are also more apt to think they will be impacted.

Cutting the Deficit

Generally, a majority of Americans prefers to reduce the deficit by both raising taxes and cutting federal spending, a finding similar to last month's. A third thinks that spending cuts alone, as Republican leaders in Congress propose, is the best way to do that.

Partisanship colors views on this question. Among most Republicans, spending cuts alone are the preferred method to reduce the deficit (55 percent). Most Democrats (74 percent) and independents (55 percent) prefer a combination of tax increases and spending cuts.

When considering spending cuts, 63 percent of Americans - including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike - say that those cuts should be made without use of the sequester. Eighteen percent want them made through the sequester, and 13 percent want no cuts at all.

Most Democrats (65 percent ) and Republicans (62 percent) want cuts made without the sequester. Still, more than a quarter of Republicans (27 percent) support cuts made via the sequester.



As was the case during the battle over raising the debt ceiling in January, there is broad public support for compromise. Seventy-eight percent want the president and Democrats in Congress to compromise their positions and come to an agreement, and 73 percent want the Republicans in Congress to do the same. Few want either side to stick to their positions, even if it means not coming to an agreement.

Following the Sequester

More than seven in ten Americans are following the news about the automatic spending cuts, including 28 percent who are following it very closely.

For full poll results, see next page


This poll was conducted by telephone from March 1-3, 2013 among 861 adults nationwide. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.