One thing that did unite the public was overwhelming opposition to the idea that the United States should help Greece during its economic crisis—even if a Greek default would “hurt the global economy—including the United States.”
The question posed to recipients was whether the “U.S. should or should not provide any financial assistance to European nations and financial institutions which have already offered Greece aid if it undertakes reforms to repair its fiscal problems.”
Fully 71 percent said that the U.S. should not provide such aid; 21 percent said it should. A sliver of respondents, 8 percent, said they didn’t know or refused to answer. The numbers aren’t shocking, given the longtime public antipathy toward foreign aid and the U.S.’s own financial woes, but they provide a warning to Congress and to policymakers across the Atlantic in the event that Italy, a nation of great concern to European central bankers, finds itself on the brink of default.
The United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on Nov. 3-6, surveying 1,005 adults. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points and included live telephone interviews conducted via landline and cell phones. It is the latest in a series of national surveys that will track the public’s priorities for Congress—and its assessment of Washington’s performance—during most weeks that Congress is in session through 2012.
The super committee question reveals a partisan divide. While 79 percent of Republicans favored the Republican cuts-only plan, 82 percent of Democrats favored the Democratic plan. Independents were, as one might expect, more evenly split, with 47 percent favoring the Republican plan and 45 percent the Democratic plan.
Republicans continue to make inroads with white voters without a college education. A full 50-percent of these lower earners favored the Republican plan even though Democrats have repeatedly said that it places an undue burden on the middle class and the poor while asking too little from wealthier Americans. Those earning more than $75,000 annually favored the Democratic plan. For white working-class voters, it may be that just the word “Democratic” casts a pall over policies.
The United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll found support for a number of Democratic ideas that have been floating around Congress; most notably, 84 percent of voters said that it was very important or somewhat important for Congress to reach agreement by the end of this year on “new federal spending to create jobs by rehabilitating public schools and mass transit, and preventing layoffs of teachers, police, and other first responders.” Likewise, 82 percent said it was very or somewhat important this year for Congress to produce “new legislation to reduce the federal deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases on high-income families.” Only 60 percent said it was very or somewhat important to craft “new legislation to reduce the federal deficit solely by cutting spending on federal programs, including entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid.”
Some subgroups are off the charts when it comes to the Democratic proposals. For instance, 92 percent of women 18-49 say it’s very or somewhat important to pass “create-jobs” legislation. Even that difficult group for Democrats and the president, white noncollege men, wants Congress to get that done this year. Some 80 percent say that it is important or very important to them.
This article appears in the Nov. 9, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily.