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Majority of Americans Still Can't Judge Impact of Sequester

Majority of Americans Still Can't Judge Impact of Sequester

PRINCETON, NJ -- The majority of Americans still don't know enough to say whether the March 1 sequestration budget cuts have been a good or a bad thing for the country or for them personally -- as was the case when they went into effect nearly two weeks ago. Of those who do have an opinion, more say the cuts have been bad rather than good.

Trend: Americans' Views About Sequestration's Impact on the Country

Americans' Views About Sequestration's Impact on Them Personally

The new data were collected as part of Gallup Daily tracking March 11-12. Now, 55% say they don't know enough to gauge the effect of the cuts on the country, up from 51% in March 2-3 interviewing. And 60% say they don't have an opinion on the cuts as far as their personal situation is concerned, up from 55%.

Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to have an opinion about sequestration, as was the case just after the cuts were instituted. Republicans with an opinion are significantly more positive about the cuts than are independents or Democrats. Still, even with their net positive viewpoint, just a little more than a third of Republicans say the cuts have been a good thing for the country (34%), and fewer, 27%, say they have been good for them personally.

Impact of Sequestration Nationally and Personally, by Party, Mid-March 2013

Bottom Line

The American public has not yet come to a strongly shared judgment on the effects of the sequestration cuts, which became law March 1. More than half of Americans say they simply don't know enough to tell whether the cuts are a good thing or a bad thing for the country or for themselves -- as was the case when Gallup first asked about the impact of the sequester, right after it went into effect.

Americans are likely basing their opinions of the cuts on what they hear, read, and see in the news and from friends and colleagues, as well as on their own experiences. Apparently, nothing in the information flow from any of these sources has been enough -- to date -- to move the public's opinions about the cuts in either direction.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 11-12, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,022 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphones numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

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.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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