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Half in U.S. Still Have No View on Effect of Sequestration

Half in U.S. Still Have No View on Effect of Sequestration

Among those with an opinion, more say cuts have been a "bad thing"

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' views of the budget sequestration have changed little since the cuts went into effect more than a month ago, despite the increased discussion of the effect on government employees and the decisions on the part of some officials to voluntarily return part of their pay as a result. Currently, 49% of Americans do not know enough to say if the sequestration budget cuts have been good for the country, and 57% say the same about the effect on themselves personally -- both little changed from a month ago. Of those with an opinion, more say the cuts have been bad rather than good.

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Americans' views toward sequestration have not changed significantly across the three times Gallup asked about it -- March 2-3, March 11-12, and most recently, April 6-7 -- despite the increased news coverage of the effect of sequestration on government employees, some of whom will begin to take forced furloughs without pay as soon as this month. President Barack Obama's announcement that he would return 5% of his salary to the U.S. Treasury voluntarily because of sequestration also drew attention to the cuts. Gallup has found that most Americans favor all members of the House and Senate returning part of their pay.

Independents Most Likely to Lack Opinion on Sequestration

Independents are most likely not to have an opinion on the sequestration's effect, followed by Democrats and then Republicans. The larger group of Republicans who do have an opinion are more divided about the cuts' effect on the country than are either independents or Democrats. But, Republicans' views on the effect of the cuts on themselves personally are now roughly similar to the gap for independents and Democrats -- with a 10- to 13-percentage-point gap between "bad thing" and "good thing" across the three groups.

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Bottom Line

More than a month after the sequestration budget cuts went into effect on March 1, half of Americans still say they do not know enough to have an opinion about whether the cuts have been good or bad for the country or for themselves. As has been the case across three separate surveys, views about the effect of the cuts among those with an opinion are mixed -- although more say the cuts have been bad rather than good.

Republicans provide one exception to this overall pattern: They are just as likely to say the cuts have been good as to say they have been bad for the country. But, Republicans in this survey now agree with independents and Democrats that the cuts have been bad rather than good for themselves personally.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted April 6-7, 2013, with a random sample of 1,025 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. Cellphone 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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