A new poll released on Wednesday found that most Americans oppose an increase in the debt ceiling, but at the same time support few potential cuts in the federal budget.
The Ipsos/Reuters poll found that 71% of those surveyed oppose increasing the debt limit. This was true even of the half sample who were told that "not raising the debt limit would damage the US' sovereign debt rating, which is like our credit rating: it would seriously damage our credibility abroad, would make it much more difficult for us to borrow in the future, and would likely push up interest rates."
As with most polling on substantive issues, what the results show is more a reaction to the way the pollster describes the policy than a deep-seated opinion on the issue at hand.
While most respondents opposed increasing the debt limit, few proposals to cut spending received majority support in the poll. Most supported cutting foreign aid (74% support), cutting the budget of the IRS (65% support) and cutting the budgets of financial regulators (53%). A narrow majority (51%) also supported cutting defense spending, although that majority comes from the half sample that was told that defense spending is one of the three major spending areas that make up almost 2/3 of the budget; only 47% of those who were not told that supported cutting defense spending.
The poll was conducted Jan. 7-10 among 1,021 adults, and has a margin of error of 3.1% for the full sample. Error margins for the half samples included are higher.