Poll: Americans Split on Ryan, Obama Budget Plans

But, in the public’s mind, both parties share in the responsibility for creating the debt mess.

By + More

The usually insightful and informative Gallup Poll is out with numbers Wednesday that really obfuscate the debate over how best to address the nation’s deficit and indebtedness problem.

On the surface the voters appear split right down the middle, with Gallup reporting that 44 percent of the more than 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed “prefer the Democratic plan proposed by President Barack Obama, while 43 percent say Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's plan is better.”  

This really doesn’t tell us very much.  The poll suggests that, no surprise, self-identified Democrats like Obama’s approach, self-indentified Republicans like Ryan’s and self-identified Independents like them both.  [See editorial cartoons about the budget and deficit.]

The way that Democrats have been attacking the Ryan approach to the budget--which is long on specifics--it’s a wonder that anyone supports it, given their accusations that it portends death or displacement for the poor, the sick, the elderly, the homeless and anyone else who can be considered a reliable left-of-center voter. The Obama approach, which is short on specifics and long on talk, is somewhat more vacuous that Ryan’s--but the truth is that most Americans don’t know very much about either of them.

When asked, as part of the question, Gallup says, “Pluralities of middle-aged Americans as well as those 65 and older prefer Ryan's plan to Obama's, while adults 18 to 29 show more support for Obama's, 53 percent to 30 percent.”  Which does suggest that people more likely to be more informed, like America’s seniors, are siding with Ryan.  But again, that’s just speculation. [Vote now: Should Ryan's budget plan become law?]

It is true that the same survey found that the GOP held “a significant edge” over the Democrats when it came to dealing with the federal budget.  “Nearly half of Americans, 48 percent prefer the Republicans in Congress on this question,” Gallup reported, “while 36 percent favor the Democrats.”  Which probably means that the public’s appetite for unnamed spending cuts is more robust than either its desire to preserve the status quo or seek tax increases, which is part of what Obama wants to do. Nevertheless the same survey blackened the eyes of both parties, who in the public’s mind share in the responsibility for creating the mess the country’s in.

  • Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons about the budget and deficit.
  • Read the U.S. News debate: Does the Constitution need a balanced budget amendment?
  • Get the latest Washington news delivered to your inbox.