By Peter Schroeder - 03/28/11 10:16 AM EDT
Likely voters are split on whether Congress should cut funding for Planned Parenthood, according to a new poll conducted for The Hill that also found a significant gender gap on the issue.
Fifty percent of women polled oppose eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood, while 38 percent said the group’s federal funds should be eliminated. More men (46 percent) would cut Planned Parenthood’s funding than leave it alone (43 percent).
Only 26 percent of single people supported cutting Planned Parenthood funds compared to 51 percent of married people. Fifty-five percent of voters over the age of 65 back the cuts, while just 31 percent of voters aged 18 to 39 agree. And just 9 percent of black voters agree, compared to 45 percent of white voters.
Overall, 46 percent of those surveyed said Planned Parenthood’s funding should be left alone, while 42 percent say it should be cut. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.
Language to eliminate federal funds for Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive health services to women, is perhaps the most controversial provision in the House Republican bill to fund the government for the rest of the year.
GOP leaders face intense pressure from conservative members to include that language in a new funding bill to keep the government operating past April 8, when the current continuing resolution expires.
Democrats are under an equal amount of pressure to reject it, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said it cannot be included in a funding bill.
Conservatives argue it is necessary to block the funds to ensure federal dollars are not in any way supporting a group that provides abortion services. Supporters of Planned Parenthood note federal law already prevents money from being used for abortions.
The language is one of several provisions backed by House Republicans that seeks to shift policy under the Obama administration. Differences over these policy riders may be more difficult for the White House and Republicans to overcome than agreeing to a final budget number for fiscal 2011, which ends Sept. 30.
The Hill poll showed broad support for cutting spending. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed think it is very or somewhat important to cut government spending, but voters are much more divided about some of the specific cuts proposed by House Republicans.
For example, voters are also split over a House GOP provision to block funds for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this year to prevent it from regulating greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
Forty-three percent of voters think the EPA funds should be blocked, while 41 percent said they should not, a result within the poll’s margin of error.
A stark partisan divide emerges on both the Planned Parenthood and EPA language, with Republicans much more supportive of the cuts than Democrats.
On Planned Parenthood, Republicans were nearly three times more likely to support the cuts than Democrats. Sixty-two percent of Republicans would cut the group’s funding, while only 22 percent of Democrats would. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats say it should be left alone.
The party breakdown is similar on the question of banning funding for the EPA, with 59 percent of Republicans supporting it and 61 percent of Democrats opposing it.
There is also a gender gap on the EPA question, with 48 percent of men agreeing that the EPA funds should be cut but just 39 percent of women.
Voters are also divided on whether Congress should ban the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from spending money on “net neutrality,” which would require Internet providers to treat all websites the same.
House Republicans adopted an amendment in their spending package that would block funding to the FCC to implement its new net neutrality rules, which were adopted in December.
Voters are slightly more likely to favor the funding ban (39 percent) than oppose it (29 percent), but 32 percent remain uncertain.
The only area where a majority of voters agree is on blocking any foreign aid going to Saudi Arabia. Sixty-nine percent of voters agree with the ban, while 20 percent disagree.
Such a ban has been proposed by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). While aid to Saudi Arabia is banned by law, the executive branch is allowed to make exceptions.
The poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted for The Hill by Pulse Opinion Research.
For complete results click here