Peterson Poll: Broad Majority Calls for More Focus on Nation's Fiscal Outlook

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Peterson Poll: Broad Majority Calls for More Focus on Nation's Fiscal Outlook
With important fiscal deadlines looming in coming weeks, the nation’s fiscal outlook remains a top concern for American voters. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s October Fiscal Confidence Index, a monthly measure of public attitudes about the nation’s long-term debt and the efforts elected leaders are making to address America’s fiscal challenges, is 51 (100 is neutral). As lawmakers face important decisions on the debt ceiling and the annual budget, voters are calling for their leaders to put the nation on a sustainable long-term fiscal path.
In October's survey, voters continue to have deep concerns about the long-term national debt, with nearly two thirds (65% increased/17% decreased) saying that their level of concern has increased over the last few years. More than eight in ten (82%) voters want Congress and the President to spend more time addressing these challenges, with 80% calling for the debt to be among their top three priorities. However, while overall sentiment about the debt remains deeply negative, voters are more optimistic than pessimistic about the country’s ability to make progress on the issue (51% optimistic/38% pessimistic).
"Lawmakers have several critical fiscal issues to address in coming weeks," said Michael A. Peterson, President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. "Voters are urging their leaders to work together to move away from government-by-crisis and instead focus on comprehensive solutions to America’s unsustainable long-term debt."
The Fiscal Confidence Index measures public opinion about the national debt by asking six questions in three key areas:
  • Concern: Level of concern and views about the direction of the national debt.
  • Priority: How high a priority addressing the debt should be for elected leaders.
  • Expectations: Expectations about whether the debt situation will get better or worse in the next few years.
The survey results from these three areas are weighted equally and averaged to produce the Fiscal Confidence Index value. The Fiscal Confidence Index, like the Consumer Confidence Index, is indexed on a scale of 0 to 200, with a neutral midpoint of 100. A reading above 100 indicates positive sentiment. A reading below 100 indicates negative sentiment.
Detailed poll results available at PGPF website.
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