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Public Opinion And The Deficit

Pew Research has released its latest political typology, a detailed clustering of the electorate that it does every half dozen years or so. I'm a huge fan of these, and you can probably count on me referring back to this study fairly often until the next one comes along.

The first thing that jumped out at me is how poorly President Obama has communicated his deficit reduction strategy. Other surveys have shown that the public holds pretty left-wing views on specific questions -- they favor defense spending cuts and higher taxes on the rich, and fiercely oppose entitlement cuts. Of course, people don't pay attention to specifics, so it's no surprise that Obama would be losing a more generalized debate. What's surprising is that Obama's generalized position is far more popular, and he isn't winning anyway.

The general Obama position is that we need to reduce the deficit through a combination of spending cuts and higher taxes. That's popular:

Even large chunks of the GOP base support this approach. The Republican approach -- "we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem" -- is wildly unpopular. But the public does not give Obama any credit for supporting its view:

I'm sure the overwhelming factor here is that Obama is the president and he takes the blame for the deficit. It doesn't matter that the deficit was caused by George Bush's policies along with the economy collapse of 2008, or that Obama's proposal to reduce the deficit is far vastly more popular than the GOP approach in both abstract and in specific terms.