Poll: Majority prefer cutting spending to raising taxes

The most popular ideas, when those ideas were suggested to respondents, for reducing the deficit are to reduce Social Security benefits for the wealthy, reduce the money allocated to projects in their own community, reduce farm subsidies and reduce defense spending. More than 50 percent supported reductions in each of those programs.

Democrats and independents were more likely to favor cuts to defense spending than Republicans to reduce the deficit, with 39 percent backing those reductions. Republicans were most likely to favor reducing money for projects in their area (73 percent), reducing social security for the wealthy (66 percent), reducing farm subsidies (58 percent) and reducing money for student loans (54 percent.)

Democrats were most likely to support reducing social security for the wealthy (60 percent), reducing defense spending (58 percent) and reducing farm subsidies (55 percent).

Forty-seven percent say it will be necessary to cut programs that benefit people like them to reduce the deficit, while 41 percent say the deficit can be reduced without cutting programs that benefit them.

In the case of emergencies, 72 percent say that deficits can be acceptable when they are kept manageable while 18 percent say deficits are never acceptable, and 7 percent say the government should run whatever deficits are necessary.

Most Americans don't know exactly how the government spends its money. 

For example, when asked what percent of the budget goes to earmarks, 41 percent said they make up less than 20 percent of the budget, 13 percent said 20-50 percent, 4 percent said more than 50 percent and 42 percent didn't know. Earmarks actually make up less than one percent of the budget.