Americans are much more likely to think the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration will have a major impact on federal workers, members of the military and people receiving government assistance than on their own family, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. But given the option to spare any of those groups from cuts, a majority would exempt only members of the military.
According to the new survey, which was conducted before sequestration began on Friday, Americans tend to think that budget cuts will have a relatively minor effect on their own lives. Only 22 percent said that they thought the cuts would have a major impact on themselves and their families, while another 32 percent said they would have a minor effect and 20 percent said they would have no effect.
But respondents were more likely to say that sequestration would have a major effect on other groups. Forty-five percent said it would have a major effect on members of the military, 44 percent said it would have a major effect on federal employees and contractors and 40 percent said it would have a major effect on people receiving government assistance, such as food assistance and unemployment benefits.
But asked which of those groups, if any, should be spared from cuts, only members of the military received majority support. Fifty-three percent of respondents said members of the military should be spared, 37 percent said people receiving government assistance should be spared and only 20 percent said that federal employees and contractors should be spared.
Views on who should be spared from cuts varied somewhat along party lines. Democrats were more likely to say people receiving government assistance should be spared (52 percent) than members of the military should be spared (45 percent). They were also more likely than either Republicans or independents to say that federal employees and contractors should be spared from cuts, with 30 percent of Democrats but only 13 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of independents saying federal employees should be protected from the impact.
HuffPost readers who have sent in stories of how they will be affected by the budget cuts include many whose jobs would be impacted. Some were federal workers and contractors who may lose up to a fifth of their yearly income through furloughs, while others' work is dependent on grants that would be affected by cuts. One reader wrote that, as a result of cuts to vouchers for parents paying for childcare, "I may lose some or all children who are enrolled in my daycare." Other readers would be directly affected by cuts to programs such as housing assistance or The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), geared toward low-income women and children.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Feb. 27-28 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.
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