As the Fiscal Cliff fight rages on, both sides are using the media to position themselves as being serious and reasonable.
One big factor is that for all the hype about the issue, very few people really understand what The Fiscal Cliff actually is..
To gauge the public level of understanding, we had SurveyMonkey run a poll on the issue. The internet pollster launched a new business, Audience, where they tack on additional questions to the end of their surveys to gauge public opinion for a customer.
While online polling has historically been criticised for inaccuracies, SurveyMonkey has an excellent track record and was more accurate during the election than many phone-based pollsters.
We wanted to gauge if people understood the result of the expiration of tax cuts and the start of massive, across the board budget slashing. Recall that the whole point of sequestration is to reduce the national deficit, and that the expiration of tax cuts would give the government even more revenue.
So we asked simply: Were the United States to “go over the fiscal cliff,” what do you expect would happen to the National Deficit?
At least according to the CBO and most economists, the correct answer is that “It will decrease.” Going over the Fiscal Cliff would, according a Congressional Budget Office study, result in a reduction in the National Deficit of $607 billion between fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
However that was not the most popular answer. Per the survey, 47.4% of respondents said that the deficit would INCREASE if we went over the Fiscal Cliff. Only 12.6% think it will decrease.
Photo: SurveyMonkey poll for Business Insider
Technically, there is an argument to be made that the Fiscal Cliff would increase the national deficit because of the impact it would have on the economy. The idea is that the cuts would cause job losses, thus reducing tax revenues, and causing the National Debt to increase. However this is not the expectation of a majority of economists.
In fact, 23% of respondents were following the fiscal cliff story either very or extremely closely, and not even all of them knew the actual effects of going over the cliff.
The poll was carried out over several days between November 30 and December 3. There were 562 respondents.
Men made up 50.9% of the sample 49.1% were Female.
21% of them were between 18 and 30, 20% were between 31 and 45, 34% were between 46 and 60, and 25% were more than 60.
A third of respondents said they weren’t covering it at all.
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