PRINCETON, NJ -- Fifty-two percent of Americans interviewed Wednesday night are in favor of Congress passing a roughly $800 billion economic stimulus package; 38% are opposed. These figures are nearly identical to those measured in Gallup polling last week, right before passage of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, and are also in line with public support in early January.
According to the new Feb. 4 USA Today/Gallup poll, 70% of Democrats nationwide favor the plan and 18% oppose it. Among Republicans, 24% are in favor and 72% are opposed -- nearly the reverse of the Democrats' position. Political independents fall somewhat closer to Democrats than to Republicans in their views, with 55% in favor.
Perhaps in response to the heightened partisan debate in Congress recently over the merits of President Obama's approach to the stimulus plan, partisan differences in Americans' support have expanded slightly over the past month. This is particularly clear in terms of a slight decline in the percentage of Republicans favoring the plan, from 34% in early January to 24% today. Support among Democrats, however, has increased slightly.
Slimmed-Down Alternative Garners Less Support
A bipartisan group of centrist senators is attempting to increase support for the legislation by shaving some of the more controversial spending items from the current set of proposals. Estimates of how much trimming will take place vary, but Gallup finds 48% in favor of a smaller stimulus package that would cut the size of the original bill by up to $200 billion.
When combining respondents' views on the two questions, Gallup finds 72% of Americans in favor of at least one of the plans, including 27% who favor both plans, 24% who favor only the larger proposal, and 21% who favor only the smaller proposal. Thus, public support for some type of stimulus -- regardless of the specific dollar amount -- is high.
Gallup finds the largest segment of Democrats (37%) saying they would favor either plan, while the plurality of Republicans (38%) favor neither. Of the remaining Democrats, most favor only the larger plan, while among the remaining Republicans, most favor only the smaller plan.
According to Gallup trends, the American public has been consistent in its reaction to the concept of a major economic stimulus package since the start of the new Congress in early January. A slight majority of Americans favor Congress passing such a plan, including most Democrats and about half of independents. Republicans have consistently opposed it, although they may be hardening in their opposition as the debate over spending versus tax cuts intensifies.
Moderate senators eager to contribute positively to the debate and to potentially influence the bill's provisions have made the case for a smaller version of Obama's package, and one that perhaps could include a greater ratio of tax cuts to spending. However, at this point, the more talked-about $800 billion-plus plan receives slightly more public support than the smaller plan.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,012 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Feb. 4, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.