Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Voters are fairly evenly divided as to whether the federal government spends too much or too little on national defense, but most also appear to dramatically underestimate how much is actually spent.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 27% of Likely Voters say the United States does not spend enough money on the military and national security. Thirty-two percent (32%) say America spends too much on defense, while a plurality (37%) thinks the nation spends about the right amount. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
But only 25% of voters believe the United States should always spend at least three times as much on defense as any other nation. Forty percent (40%) do not think the country needs to spend this much, while 35% are not sure. Interestingly, if the government were to actually spend only three times as much as any other nation, it would imply a significant cut in U.S. defense spending.
For fiscal year 2011, the total budget for defense is estimated to be around $719 billion. That does not include the cost of veterans’ care, which totals another $124 billion. By comparison, no other nation in the world spends more than $110 billion on defense. Earlier polling showed that just 58% recognize that the United States spends more on defense than any other nation in the world.
Underlying voters’ opinions on how much the United States spends on defense is the fact that many don’t know where most of the government’s money already goes. Just 40% can correctly identify that most federal spending goes towards national defense, Social Security and Medicare. Roughly the same number (38%) believes this statement to be false, while another 22% are not sure.
“Anybody who says they want to cut spending must deal with spending on national security, Social Security and Medicare,” says Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “This is not an ideological preference; it’s a numerical reality. There is no way to cut government spending without putting these issues on the table.”
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on January 27, 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.Rasmussen subscribers can log in to read the rest of this article.
ORSave 60% on 12 months of Rasmussen Reader service – Just $24.95! >Limited Time Discount Offer
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.