Florida voters divided on the urgency - and means - of dealing with deficit

But voters are united in perception of a highly biased tax code

We have a fascinating set of responses to share from our latest statewide survey of likely general election voters in Florida. Our survey focused on America’s fiscal woes and the importance of addressing the national budget deficit. As expected, almost every respondent we interviewed said that balancing the federal budget was at least somewhat important for America’s economic future. Only 2% of the voters we interviewed stated that dealing with the national deficit was not at all important for our future.

However, in the very next question, when asked whether or not deficit spending was necessary to grow the American economy, 30% of respondents stated that such spending was in fact necessary, while 61% said the economy could be boosted without deficit spending. Predictably, Republicans were far more likely to agree that deficit spending was not necessary to boost the economy. But 60% of Independent voters disagreed with the necessity for deficit spending, while just a 49% plurality of Democratic voters believed deficit spending was necessary.

We see similar numbers when voters are asked if raising revenue or cutting spending should be the primary focus of Congress or the Florida Legislature in dealing with budget deficits. Just 26% of respondents said the federal government should focus on raising revenue to balance the budget, to 67% who prefer it focus more on cutting spending. The preference for spending cuts rises to 72% when voters are asked the same question about Florida’s state government, with just 20% of respondents saying Tallahassee should focus more on raising revenue.

One subject on which Florida voters are very united on is their belief that the federal tax system is not only unfair, but mostly benefits socioeconomic groups that they don’t identify with. Just 9% of respondents consider the federal tax code to be “pretty fair”, and just 3% say it mostly benefits the middle class. A clear majority believes the tax system mostly benefits upper class citizens, while 25% believe it mostly benefits lower class citizens. The belief that the federal tax system favors the wealthy finds very broad support with Democrats and Independents, and even 1 in 3 Republicans agree with that sentiment too.

Finally, likely voters prefer tax incentives to small businesses that hire new workers to increased government spending on work projects as a means of attacking long-term unemployment by a convincing 56-37% margin.

The study was conducted on February 16th, 2012 among 808 Florida registered voters likely to vote in the 2012 general election on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 3.5%.

Full Results

For details see Methodology

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