Americans increasingly see the budget deficit as a big problem that demands quick action, but a dwindling number thinks the U.S. will make significant deficit reductions over the next five years, according to a new poll by The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center.

 Just 31 percent now expect sizable deficit reductions in the coming five years, a 6 percentage point slide from a December Pew poll. While hopes have slipped over the five months of budget debates and furious dealmaking, 81 percent of Americans now call the deficit a major problem requiring immediate remedy, an 11-point jump.  

The slippage in optimism about the deficit since December is most pronounced among Democrats, although it’s dipped across party lines. In December, 53 percent of Democrats expected progress in closing the accounts gap; that’s now down to 44 percent in the new poll. Despite the spreading pessimism, Democrats remain the most optimistic about the potential for progress in the next five years. Around six in 10 Republicans and independents alike expect no such improvement. 

Democrats have also led the way on changes to the concern question: 81 percent of Democrats now say the federal budget is a major problem that must be addressed now, up from 64 percent in December.

 The deficit is often pitched as a particular problem for future generations, and another big shift in the poll is among younger adults, those between the ages of 18 and 29. Some 36 percent of young adults now expect progress on the deficit, down from 50 percent five months ago.

 Those who think the deficit is a major problem that must be addressed right now are particularly skeptical about the prospects for reduction, with 58 percent doubting near-term improvements.