When presented with the two parties' dueling proposals for austerity and deficit reduction, a new survey shows the American people's preference: neither.
A new HuffPost/YouGov poll, conducted Dec. 3-4 among 1,000 American adults, found that descriptions of both plans received more negative than positive reviews. Thirty-two percent said that the president's proposal, adding $1.6 trillion in taxes on wealthy Americans and cutting $400 billion in spending on Medicare and Medicaid, was a good idea, while 39 percent said it was a bad idea. Similarly, respondents said by a 36 percent to 28 percent margin that the Republican proposal of adding $800 billion in taxes and cutting $1.4 trillion in spending was a bad idea.
Forced to choose, though, more respondents said they'd prefer the president's plan to that of congressional Republicans, 41 percent to 32 percent, while 27 percent said they weren't sure which plan they would choose.
It is unlikely that respondents were reacting to known differences between the two plans, especially since the poll went into the field the same day that Republicans proposed their plan, leaving little time for news of the plan and its differences from the president's plan to reach Americans. Instead, respondents were likely reacting to a combination of some basic knowledge of the bargaining positions -- for example, that the president's plan is more likely to raise taxes on wealthier Americans -- and greater confidence in Obama than in congressional Republicans to solve the "fiscal cliff" crisis. Other polls have found that Americans are more likely to blame Republicans if fiscal cliff negotiations fail and that many more approve of Obama's handling of the fiscal cliff negotiations than the actions taken by either Republican or Democratic leaders in Congress.
According to the new HuffPost/YouGov survey, 41 percent of Americans have heard a lot about the budget negotiations, 34 percent that they've heard a little, and 17 percent said they've heard nothing at all (another 8 percent said they're not sure).
The poll was conducted using 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, and interest in politics, religion and church. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points, though that variation does not take into account other potential sources of error, including statistical bias in the sample.