Mar 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Two Americas Index: Hands off Social Security and Medicare

Share of U.S. adults who say they oppose reducing spending in select areas
Data: IPSOS and Axios Two Americas Poll; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say they oppose reducing spending on Social Security or Medicare, according to new polling from our Axios-Ipsos Two Americas Index.

Why it matters: The overwhelming consensus (96% of Democrats, 84% of Republicans) explains why any talk of cutting these programs has become a political lightning rod, even as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize potential concerns regarding long-term solvency.

  • President Biden has used various Republican proposals to paint the entire GOP as a threat to Social Security and Medicare, even as party leadership insists the programs will be off the table in spending talks.
  • Three-fourths of Americans also oppose reducing spending on Medicaid or food assistance — but there's a larger gap between opposition from Democrats (92%) and Republicans (61%).

The big picture: Americans see political extremism, immigration and climate change as the top issues facing the country — but they cite opioid addiction and education as bigger issues in their own communities.

  • 49% say inflation is the most important issue facing the country; 57% say it’s their top local issue.
  • Opioid addiction and education were cited at 11% and 8% as top national issues, respectively, but doubled to 21% and 18% in terms of top local concerns.

Between the lines: There's a perceived gap between what Congress, the White House and national media are focused on and Americans' own day-to-day experiences.

  • These can be sleeper issues that sway how people vote.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 10-13, 2023, by Ipsos on its online survey panels in English. This poll is based on a sample of 1,018 general-population residents age 18 or older, weighted on age, gender, race/ethnicity, education and location to be nationally representative.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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