Majority of Americans Do Not Trust President Obama or His Economic Advisors to Handle Budget Deficit

NEW YORK , N.Y. – May 31, 2011 – The issue of the budget deficit is one that many people know exists, but are not exactly clear on how it should be handled. And, when it comes to who among elected officials they would trust to handle the deficit, it turns out majorities of Americans would not trust any of these people or groups: just over half of Americans (51%) do not trust President Obama to handle the budget deficit (while 49% do) and over half of U.S. adults (56%) do not trust the President’s economic advisors.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011.

Those in Congress fare even worse. Two-thirds of Americans say they do not trust Republicans (65%) or Democrats (66%) in Congress to handle the deficit. The highest elected Republican official, Speaker of the House John Boehner, does just as poorly as 65% say they do not trust him to handle the budget deficit.

Partisan differences

Depending on which political party one belongs to, they may be more likely to have greater trust levels on this issue. More than four in five Democrats (83%) trust President Obama to handle the deficit while three-quarters (76%) trust his advisors and almost two-thirds (64%) trust Democrats in Congress. Looking at Republicans, not surprisingly, over two-thirds (68%) trust Republicans in Congress and over half (55%) trust Speaker Boehner to handle the budget deficit. Independents, however, do not trust anyone. Just two in five trust President Obama (43%), 36% trust his economic advisors, 31% trust Speaker Boehner, 28% trust Republicans in Congress and 22% trust Democrats in Congress.

Income differences

There are also some differences by household income. Just over half of those with a household income of under $35,000 a year (51%) and over $100,000 a year (52%) say they trust President Obama on the budget deficit. Those in the highest income bracket are also more likely to trust the President’s economic advisors (49%), Republicans in Congress (41%) and the Speaker of the House (40%) to handle the budget deficit. Those in the lowest income bracket are more likely to trust Democrats in Congress (41%) to handle the deficit.

So What?

The budget deficit is a serious issue that is not going away and may become even more prominent over the summer with the debate over the debt ceiling. The American public is looking for someone they trust on this and, at the moment, elected officials are not filling that void. This could be a chance for a Republican presidential candidate to stand out from the other GOP hopefuls as well as from those currently in power if he or she presents a plan people can trust.

 

TABLE 1

TRUST IN HANDLING THE BUDGET DEFICIT

How much trust do you have in each of the following to handle to budget deficit?

Base: All adults

 

Trust (NET)

A great deal of trust

Some trust

Do Not trust (NET)

Not that much trust

No trust at all

%

%

%

%

%

%

President Barack Obama

49

20

28

51

15

36

The President’s economic advisors

44

8

35

56

25

31

The Republicans in Congress

35

5

30

65

31

34

House Speaker John Boehner

35

6

29

65

37

28

The Democrats in Congress

34

7

27

66

31

36

 

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2

TRUST IN HANDLING THE BUDGET DEFICIT – SUMMARY OF TRUST

How much trust do you have in each of the following to handle to budget deficit?

Summary of those saying a great deal of trust or some trust

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Household Income

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

$34.9k or less

$35k-$49.9k

$50k-$74.9k

$75k-$99.9k

$100k or more

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

President Barack Obama

49

16

83

43

51

42

46

49

52

The President’s economic advisors

44

17

76

36

42

37

41

48

49

The Republicans in Congress

35

68

15

28

30

36

33

34

41

House Speaker John Boehner

35

55

25

31

29

37

33

36

40

The Democrats in Congress

34

11

64

22

41

27

31

34

31

 

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J40013

Q705, 710, 722, 725, 728

The Harris Poll® #64, May 31, 2011

By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research