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Public Supports Budget Deal By 2-1 Margin

But new survey reveals a deep skepticism it actually will lead to a balanced budget by 2002

By Keating Holland/CNN


WASHINGTON (May 8) -- By a 50-26 percent margin, the American public favors the budget agreement announced last week by President Bill Clinton and Republican leaders in Congress, a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows.

But an overwhelming majority of Americans -- roughly eight in 10 -- do not believe the deal will actually result in a balanced federal budget by the year 2002, and six in 10 say that the agreement unfairly benefits some groups at the expense of others.

By a 48-31 percent margin Americans think the budget agreement will be bad for senior citizens, but the same proportion of Americans think the agreement will be good for them personally. Most of the tax cuts in the agreement are very popular, although the capital gains tax cut, though favored by a majority, is significantly less well-liked than the others.

By a small margin, the public opposes the small reductions in Social Security cost-of-living adjustments which would results from changes in the Consumer Price Index.

The numbers are based on interviews with 1,019 adult Americans conducted May 6-7. The survey has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points for most of the questions.

Here are the numbers:

Budget Agreement
Favor 50%
Oppose 26%

Will Agreement Lead to Balanced Budget in 2002?
Yes 17%
No 81%

Is Budget Agreement Fair to All Americans?
Yes 21%
No 60%

Is Budget Agreement Good For Senior Citizens?
Yes 31%
No 48%

Is Budget Agreement Good For You Personally?
Yes 48%
No 31%

Who Prevailed In Budget Talks?

Who won this round of budget talks? The public is almost evenly divided on that. By a narrow 39-36 percent margin, the public thinks that the Republicans in Congress got more of what they wanted than Clinton did, and by an equally small margin the public considers the GOP more responsible than Clinton for reaching a budget agreement at all.

But by a 47-41 percent margin, Americans say they trust Clinton more than the Republicans in Congress on the federal budget. By an even wider margin, the public trusts the Democrats in Congress on the budget more than the GOP.

Here are the numbers:

Who Got More of What They Wanted in the Budget Agreement?
GOP 39%
Clinton 36%

More Responsible for Reaching Budget Agreement?
GOP 44%
Clinton 40%

Trust More in Dealing With Federal Budget
Clinton 47%
GOP 41%
(Sampling error: +/-5% pts)

Trust More in Dealing With Federal Budget
Democrats in Congress 44%
Republicans in Congress 35%
(Sampling error: +/-5% pts)

Who Wins?

Has the budget agreement helped either Clinton or the GOP? Not really, it appears. Clinton's approval rating is up slightly since mid-April, but more Americans disapprove than approve of how he is handling the deficit, taxes and Medicare. The agreement appears to have improved Clinton's standing with the public on these issues only by a point or two. Congress' approval rating has also risen only slightly since April, while Clinton continues to maintain about a 3-2 advantage over Congress when it comes to approval ratings.

Approval Ratings
Now April
Clinton 57% 54%
Congress 32% 30%

Clinton Approval Ratings
Approve Disapprove
Deficit 44% 46%
Taxes 41% 48%
Medicare 39% 44%

Clinton And The Economy

Clinton's approval rating on the economy is still high, and half the country says that economic conditions are getting better. Overall, 46 percent say economic conditions are excellent or good, making this the most optimistic spring in the past five years.

Clinton's Handling Of The Economy
Approve 59%
Disapprove 33%

Economic Conditions Today
Getting better 50%
Getting worse 40%

Economic Conditions Today
Excellent/good 46%
Only fair 38%
Poor 15%

Economic Conditions Are Excellent or Good
Now 46%
Spring 1996 30%
Spring 1995 30%
Spring 1994 24%
Spring 1993 15%
Spring 1992 12%

Other Polls:

President Clinton Is America's Most Admired Man (12/30/97)
Americans Support U.S. Role In Bosnia (12/22/97)
Reno Should Have Appointed Independent Counsel (12/3/97)
Americans Want Independant Counsel (11/24/97)
Virginia Exit Poll: Governor's Race (11/6/97)
New Jersey Exit Poll: Governor's Race (11/4/97)
New York City Exit Poll: Mayor's Race (11/4/97)
Clinton, Gore Approval Ratings Rise (10/30/97)
America's Leaders Like America's Course (10/13/97)
Americans Want Campaign Reform (9/29/97)
Bad, Good News For Gore (9/12/97)
Congress Returns With High Approval Rating (8/28/97)
More Americans Want Jones vs. Clinton Settled Out Of Court (8/14/97)
Credit For Balanced Budget Deal Goes To GOP (8/1/97)
Clinton, GOP Deserve Credit For Budget (7/28/97)
GOP Congress Out Of Touch, Favors Wealthy (6/30/97)
People Still Care About Washington Scandals (6/3/97)
High Court Correct On Jones Case (6/2/97)
Public Supports Budget Deal By 2-1 Margin (5/8/97)
Few Americans Volunteer Regularly (4/25/97)
Most Say No To Wheelchair In F.D.R. Memorial (4/24/97)
Clinton's Approval Suffering Little (4/21/97)
Majority Says Gingrich Loan 'Inappropriate' (4/18/97)
Clinton's Approval Rating Remains High (3/27/97)
Gore's Poll Numbers Dip (3/14/97)
WSJ/NBC Poll On Fund-Raising (3/13/97)
Is Clinton's Honeymoon Ending? (2/27/97)
Americans Are Split On Clinton's Fund-Raising Tactics (2/27/97)
For 2000, Powell's No. 1 With GOP Voters (2/21/97)
President's Approval Rating Stays At High Levels (2/8/97)
New Yorkers Strongly Support Pataki (2/7/97)
Public Confidence High In Clinton On Most Issues (2/7/97)
Clinton Rides High On Issues Public Cares About Most (2/3/97)
Clinton Approval Rating At All-Time High (1/16/97)
Polls - Campaign '96

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