What factors impact public opinion on federal government spending?
Downey, Keith Michael.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. This paper will examine the factors that shape public opinion on federal government spending, taking note of both respondent characteristics like income, education, and political self-identification, as well as economic and federal budget indicators like GDP growth rate, the size of the deficit, and the unemployment rate. The paper also examines the effect of public opinion on spending on voter political party choice. Most of the data used comes from the American National Election Studies Cumulative Data File, which aggregates data from public opinion surveys; this paper uses surveys taken from 1982-2004. Economic indicator data comes from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Office of Management and Budget, respectively. The results suggest that income and political self-identification are more important predictors of public opinion on federal government spending than are the economic indicator variables, though the economic variables are statistically significant. While most explanatory variables had the expected sign, including economic variables like GDP growth rate and size of the federal budget deficit, the unemployment rate had a sign opposite to what might be expected. Public opinion on spending was also found to have a statistically significant impact on the voting choice of respondents in the presidential elections. The implication for public policy is that while economic indicators may have a relatively small impact on one's opinion on federal government spending, officials and politicians should note that opinion on spending does matter to voters when they are heading to the polls, and therefore officials and politicians should be aware of public opinion on spending when formulating the budget if they want to stay in office or get elected.
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