WASHINGTON (AP) — You might say President Barack Obama cut himself some extra margin of error Friday when he claimed 80 percent of Americans want the debt crisis solved with a mix of tax increases and spending cuts.
Polling does suggest, as Obama said, that Americans overall and even Republican voters are open to higher taxes as part of the solution. But claiming support from 8 in 10 people was a reach.
A look at his statements about polling and how they compare with the actual findings:
OBAMA: "You have 80 percent of the American people who support a balanced approach. Eighty percent of the American people support an approach that includes revenues and includes cuts. So the notion that somehow the American people aren't sold is not the problem."
THE POLLS: A Gallup poll, cited by the White House as the main basis for Obama's statement, actually found that 69 percent supported tackling the deficit with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases. An additional 4 percent favored tax increases only — a group that does not endorse Obama's "balanced" approach but could reasonably be counted on his side. That brings his support to 73 percent at most in that poll.
Obama can get closer to 80 percent, but only by counting those who don't belong in that group: people who declined to give an opinion or volunteered an idea of their own to reduce deficits.
Overall, the poll found Americans favor spending cuts much more than tax increases, while supporting a mix of both.
The polling, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, was conducted July 7-10.
Similarly, in a Quinnipiac poll this week, 67 percent favored raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations as part of the debt-control effort while 25 percent said that should be done with spending cuts only.
OBAMA: "The clear majority of Republican voters think that any deficit reduction package should have a balanced approach and should include some revenues."
THE POLLING: The Gallup poll indeed found majority Republican support for a mix of spending cuts and higher taxes. Other polls have not.
In the Gallup poll, 41 percent of Republicans supported a package of mostly spending cuts — meaning some tax increases — and 24 percent favored an equal share of higher tax revenue and lower federal spending. Counting the few who wanted tax increases to be the main driver of deficit reduction, 67 percent of Republicans favored a mixed approach. The poll surveyed adults generally and was not limited to voters, as Obama suggested.
In contrast, 48 percent of Republicans in the Quinnipiac poll — which was limited to registered voters — said the problem should be tackled with spending cuts only and just 43 percent said to include some tax increases, too.
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