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Just 22% Say Obama Likely to Meet 2009 Goal of Cutting Deficit in Half

Deficit reduction is expected to be a key part of President Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight as it has been since early in his presidency, but few voters expect him to hit his goal of cutting the deficit in half by the end of his first term.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 22% of Likely U.S. Voters think the president is even somewhat likely to cut the federal deficit in half while 72% say Obama is unlikely to achieve that goal which he laid out in a speech in February 2009. Those figures include three percent (3%) who say it is Very Likely to be achieved while 37% say Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

While skeptical it can be achieved, 88% view cutting the deficit in half as at least somewhat important, including 52% who say it is Very Important. Only eight percent (8%) think reducing the deficit by half is not very or not at all important.

Throughout 2009, voters consistently rated cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term as the more important of several budget priorities the president listed earlier that year. Health care was generally the number two priority voters cited, and the president has been criticized even by some in his own party for putting his emphasis on health care reform over the economy during his first two years in office.

Most voters continue to favor repeal of the health care law as they have since it was passed by Democrats in Congress last March. Sixty percent (60%) believe the law will increase the federal deficit.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on January 23-24, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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