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The Hill Poll: Few voters know what sequester actually is

Only 36 percent of voters know what the sequester is, even
as the topic dominates discussion inside the beltway, according to a new poll
from The Hill.

When asked what the term refers to, and presented with a
range of options, fully one-quarter of the public admitted that they did not
know. Even more (38 percent) chose one of the incorrect explanations. Just over
one-in-three voters correctly pegged it as a package of spending cuts that will
soon take effect.

{mosads}Washington has been feeding the public a steady diet of news
headlines about the doom and gloom surrounding fiscal issues for some time. As
policymakers lurch from one fiscal crisis to another, it perhaps should not be
surprising that voters are having a hard time keeping track of it all.

Roughly one-fifth of those polled, 21 percent, had some
sense the sequester was a fiscal issue, but got their crises tangled, believing
that the term describes the possibility that the United States could soon
exceed its debt limit.

Congress put that standoff to bed (for now) in January.
Meanwhile, the real sequester is set to begin taking effect March 1.

Another eight percent of voters claimed to know about the
sequester, but got their branches of government confused. Those voters believe
the term refers to an upcoming ruling by the Supreme Court on the federal
budget. Such a case would come as news to Chief Justice John Roberts.

In addition, The Hill Poll found that nine percent believe
the term “sequester” actually describes the process by which an elected
official is tossed out of office. Voters might not be happy with Washington,
but the sequester won’t get rid of them any more quickly than usual.

When it comes to admitting a lack of knowledge, it turns out
the gender divide is just as pronounced on fiscal policy as it is on a
willingness to seek driving directions. Women were almost twice as likely as
men — 32 percent to 18 percent — to admit that they didn’t know what the
sequester was.

Regarding party affiliation, voters who identify as
Democrats were significantly more likely to nail the sequester question.

Forty-one percent of left-leaning voters knew the right
answer, compared to just 28 percent of Republicans. In fact, a plurality of GOP
voters, 29 percent, believed the sequester referred to the debt limit.

Voters who did not identify with either party correctly
answered the question to the tune of 40 percent.

The Hill Poll was conducted among 1,000 likely voters by
Pulse Opinion Research on Feb. 7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus
three percentage points.

Click here to view data from The Hill Poll.

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