WASHINGTON -- As the U.S. prepares to spend billions of dollars fighting extremist groups in the Middle East, there is little consensus among Americans as to how much the federal government should be spending on its own military. In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, 34 percent of Americans want the federal government to keep spending about the same amount on defense, while 28 percent want to spend more, and 24 percent want to spend less. Responses were split down the middle on whether spending more on defense would make the nation any safer.
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a budget that would boost defense spending by at least $20 billion. The vote was seen as a victory for defense hawks over fiscal conservatives within the GOP caucus. No Democrats voted to approve the House budget.
The poll results reflect the partisan divide in Congress, with self-identified Republicans far more hawkish than their Democratic counterparts. Half of Republicans want to increase defense spending, while 38 percent want to keep it the same, and just 7 percent want to decrease spending. Independents are about evenly split, while nearly three-quarters of Democrats would opt to either reduce defense spending or maintain current levels.
By nearly 3-to-1, Republican respondents believe that more defense spending will make the U.S. safer as opposed to not. Democrats say by almost 2-to-1 that more money for the military will not make Americans safer.
For Americans of both parties, however, concerns about defense spending pale in comparison to worries about the growth of the overall federal budget. The poll found that 48 percent of Americans believe reducing government spending is a more important priority for the federal government than spending money on the military, with just 21 percent prioritizing defense, and the remainder either unsure or opting for "neither." Even among those who generally favor increased defense spending, nearly half said reducing government spending should still be a bigger priority.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 19-20 among U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the poll's methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.