Doug Mataconis ∑ Thursday, February 28, 2013 ∑ 19 Comments
Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake note that, despite the constant fearmongering that has been coming out of Washington about the sequester, the American people donít really seem to be all that worried:
In Washington, Republicans and Democrats have been at loggerheads over how best to avert sequestration. In the rest of the country, a remarkably high percentage of Americans take a different view: Bring it on.
Thirty-seven percent of Americans said they would tell their member of Congress to let the deep federal spending cuts known as sequestration go into effect as scheduled, according to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday, while nearly one in five had no opinion. A plurality (45 percent) said they would like to see Congress pass a measure to avert the cuts, but thatís hardly a decisive figure that reflects the alarm bells the Obama administration has been sounding the last couple of weeks.
The public was similarly divided in a Pew Research Center/USA Today poll released last week. Four in 10 Americans said President Obama and Congress should let the cuts go into effect if they cannot reach a deal to avoid them by March 1. Forty-nine percent said the cuts should be delayed.
What gives? For starters, many Americans simply havenít tuned into the debate over the deep cuts set to hit the federal government on Friday. In the Gallup poll, 38 percent said they were not following the story too closely or at all closely. An even higher percentage of Americans ó 48 percent ó said the same thing in a Washington Post-Pew poll released earlier this week. Itís hard to strongly oppose cuts you donít really know that much about.
In an effort to ratchet up pressure on congressional Republicans to agree to Democratic calls for a mixture of new tax revenue and alternate spending cuts as a means of avoiding the sequester, the Obama administration has launched a full-scale effort to warn the public of the dire consequences of inaction. The more Americans know about sequestration, the thinking goes, the greater pressure they will exert on their representative to act to avert it.
The Gallup poll backs this notion up. Among those following the issue very or somewhat closely, 50 percent want to see it averted. Among those following it less closely, that number drops to 39 percent.(Of course, this could be a self-selecting sample; if you think the cuts are going to be bad, you are more likely to pay close attention.)