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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 06:30 PM ET, 07/20/2009

Democratic Rifts on Budget, Economy

The Obama administration's delayed release of the Mid-Session Budget Review fits the timeline for previous releases in transition years, but the move buys extra time at an opportune moment for the president.

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that on the two issues directly addressed by the report - the economy and the federal budget deficit - faith in President Obama is fading. And perhaps most importantly for his legislative agenda, Obama faces surprising shifts on these issues among moderate and conservative Democrats.

The rift within the Democratic Party is most clear on Obama's handling of the federal budget deficit. In March, strong majorities of Democrats across the ideological spectrum favored increased spending as a way to improve the economy rather than cutting back to avoid a deficit.

Liberal Democrats are still broadly supportive, with 70 percent prioritizing spending, but among moderate and conservative Democrats, just 49 percent favor more spending, 48 percent say it's time to pinch pennies.

Democrats again begin to diverge on whether Obama's economic plan will work. Among moderate and conservative Democrats, confidence has dropped 11 points since March, from 93 percent to 82 percent. Nine in 10 liberal Democrats say they feel confident the plan will improve the economy.

On both questions, shifting views among political independents add an additional challenge for the president. Since March, independents have taken a decidedly negative turn on stimulus spending (56 percent now prioritize avoiding a deficit over increased spending), and confidence that Obama's economic plan will work has fallen 20 points since just before his inauguration.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  06:30 PM ET, 07/20/2009

Categories:  Post Polls, Post Polls

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