The Hill: Poll: Independents prefer cutting the deficit to spending on jobs

October 14, 2010

The Republican Party’s focus on reducing the federal deficit may be resonating with independent voters who could swing the midterm elections.

While Democrats and Republicans split along predictable partisan lines on the question of whether the government should prioritize spending on jobs or cutting the deficit, independents in 10 battleground congressional districts break sharply toward the GOP’s point of view.

Fifty-two percent of independent voters in The Hill’s 2010 Midterm Election poll cited debt reduction as a priority, compared with only 39 percent who said additional federal spending to create jobs is more important.

Overall, 47 percent of voters in the 10 districts think deficit-cutting should take precedence over employment spending, while 46 percent said the focus should be on the government’s red ink.

“The deficit is cutting against Democrats particularly because independent voters, typically, are very concerned about the deficit,” said pollster Mark Penn of Penn Schoen Berland, which conducted the survey of 4,047 voters in 10 open seats. The sample had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percent.

Penn said independent voters who make more than $100,000 per year are particularly focused on debt reduction.

“As a matter of policy, it’s closely divided, but as a matter of politics, that issue going into these midterms is favoring the Republicans,” Penn said.

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