WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The majority of Americans still don't know enough to say whether the federal budget sequestration cuts are a good thing or a bad thing for the country -- as has generally been the case since they went into effect. But of those who do who have an opinion, more continue to say sequestration is a bad thing, rather than a good thing.
The April 29-30 results are from Gallup Daily tracking conducted after U.S. lawmakers hastily approved legislation last week to undo portions of the sequester that were blamed for flight delays throughout the country. Each of the four times Gallup has asked Americans about the impact of sequestration on the country, about half have felt unsure.
And Americans have become slightly more likely to feel unclear about the impact of sequestration on themselves personally, with 62% who say so now, up from 55% the first time Gallup asked about it in early March.
Republicans Still Have Strongest Opinions on Sequestration
Republicans continue to be more opinionated on the subject of sequestration -- 42% of them, compared with 56% of Democrats and of independents, report they don't know enough to say whether it is a good or a bad thing for the country. Republicans who do have an opinion are significantly more likely to be positive about the cuts than are independents or Democrats.
But more Republicans believe the sequester cuts have been a bad thing for them personally (28%) rather than a good thing (17%). And Republicans are more likely than independents or Democrats to say the cuts have been a bad thing for them personally.
President Obama at a press conference Tuesday said sequestration is "damaging our economy" and "hurting our people." Americans, by and large, are less convinced, with majorities unable to judge sequestration as good or bad, from a personal or a national perspective. This of course does not mean sequestration does not have consequences -- for the economy or for politicians. President Obama's job approval rating, for instance, took a noticeable though brief dive coinciding with the start of the federal budget sequester in early March. Congress approval did not change significantly from February through March and April, although it was low to begin with and is perhaps no longer subject to performance-related fluctuations, because much of the public appears to have given up on the legislative branch.
Overall, the public remains just as unsure now as it was in early March about the effect of sequestration. These perceptions could change if sequestration dramatically affects Americans' daily lives in the months ahead. But even the high-profile air traffic controller dilemma did little to shift opinions. Americans' lack of outrage or discomfort may reveal that the threat of sequestration in the future will not prove to be an effective tool to motivate legislators to reach a budget compromise.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted April 29-30, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, 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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.