While debate over the fiscal cliff is the dominant issue in Washington, many Americans say they do not fully understand the consequences of the tax and spending measures taking effect.
Only about quarter (26%) say they understand very well what would happen if the automatic spending cuts and tax increases were to go into effect in January; 32% say they understand the effect of these changes fairly well. About four-in-ten (42%) say they understand the impact of these measures not too well (23%) or not at all well (17%).
Those who say they understand the potential impact of the automatic spending cuts and tax increases either very or fairly well are more likely to say there will be a major impact on the U.S. economy (75%) and their own personal finances (48%) than are those who understand the issue not too well or not at all well (58% major impact on economy, 38% major impact on personal finances).
There are only slight partisan differences in percentages of those saying they understand the consequences of the fiscal cliff: 64% of Republicans and 61% of Democrats say they understand the possible impact of the spending and tax changes. That compares with 53% of independents. Read more.