The record generation gap evident in the last two presidential elections is echoed by large differences by age in attitudes about the tradeoff between reducing the federal deficit and preserving entitlements for older adults.
A majority of Americans, both Democrat and Republican, have received government benefits from one of the six best-known federal entitlement programs.
With less than two weeks to go before the nation goes over the fiscal cliff, the public remains pessimistic about the possibility that the president and Congress will reach an agreement by the Jan. 1 deadline.
The Democrats are in a strong position with the public as they engage in negotiations to find a solution to the fiscal cliff crisis.
With Washington making little apparent progress in efforts to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff,” most Americans are skeptical that the White House and Republicans will reach a deal. A majority would blame Republicans if talks fail.
Just as the White House and Congress faced a deadline for an agreement on raising the debt ceiling in 2011, they now must reach a deal to avoid a "fiscal cliff" before year-end. And, they have to do it against the backdrop of a public that's divided on how to reduce the deficit.
The public is skeptical that President Obama and congressional Republicans will reach an agreement by the end of the year to avoid the fiscal cliff. About half say the two sides will not reach an agreement, while just 38% say they will.
Among a dozen specific options for reducing the debt and deficit, only two win majority approval from the public – raising taxes on annual incomes over $250,000 and limiting corporate tax deductions.
When the national conversation focuses on class, the social safety net and the distribution of wealth as it has in the past week, the public sees clear differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and Obama has an overall advantage.
A proposal to shift Medicare to a voucher system, part of a Paul Ryan plan approved by the House last year, remains unpopular. Both Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden get negative marks as vice presidential candidates.