Americans don’t care about the sequester — in two charts

It's been almost five months since across-the-board federal spending cuts known as sequestration began kicking in. And since that time, Americans remain largely unsure about the impact of the cuts.

More than half of Americans (54 percent) don't know enough to say whether sequestration was a good thing or a bad thing for the country, according to a new Gallup poll. Americans are even more uncertain about the impact on their own lives. Fifty-nine percent say they don't know whether it was a good or bad thing for them personally. Those numbers are in line with where they were in March.

This much is clear, though: Among those who do have an opinion of sequestration, the perspective is decidedly more negative than it is positive. Twice as many Americans view the impact on the country negatively as view it positively. Nearly three times as many view the impact on themselves negatively as view it positively.

A May Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that a majority of Americans disapproved of the cuts, and nearly four in 10 said they felt a negative impact from them. Six in 10 said they felt no negative impact.

In the lead up to March 1, the Obama administration raised many alarm bells about the consequences of not averting the sequester. But as a Washington Post analysis found last month many of the administration's dire predictions had not come true.

Taken together, the polls show two things. One, when people have opinions about the cuts or the decision to let them happen in the first place, those opinions are negative. Secondly, there is a lot of ambiguity about the impact of the cuts -- and that means it is less likely Congress will quickly do anything about them.

In short, people are, by and large, still taking a wait-and-see approach to sequestration. And given that many of the things the administration warned about have not come to bear that should not come as a surprise.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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Sean Sullivan · July 31, 2013