NEW POLL: Addressing the Debt and Budget Deficit Tops Americans' "To Do" List for Lawmakers

NEW POLL: Addressing the Debt and Budget Deficit Tops Americans' "To Do" List
                                for Lawmakers

15th Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll Shows Americans Are
Focused on Solutions, with Renewed Belief in the Importance of Long-Term

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --After a campaign season of
unprecedented expense and duration, taming the federal budget and avoiding the
fiscal cliff top America's to-do list for President Obama and Congress,
according to poll results announced today by The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:
ALL) and National Journal. But in contrast to Washington's near exclusive
focus on the budgetary standoff, the public expresses nearly equal concern
about an array of other economic challenges, including the availability of
jobs, Medicare and Social Security; quality of education; and rising costs of
college and health care.

[Watch a live briefing on the latest Heartland Monitor Poll TODAY at 8:30
a.m., ET at]

The 15th quarterly Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll explores
the public's economic priorities and concerns in the election's aftermath and
their attitudes toward competing approaches to address these problems. The
survey also finds that Americans are more positive about the direction of the
country than they have been in quite some time; however, they remain skeptical
of Washington's ability to effectively work together and address the nation's
current challenges.

For the fourth Heartland Monitor poll in a row, the "Right Direction" metric
increased and it is now at its highest level since the series' first poll in
April 2009 (41% believe the country is heading in the right direction,
compared to 50% who believe it's on the wrong track). However, Americans are
less optimistic about their personal financial situation, led largely by
Republicans who are likely unhappy about the election result.

Looking ahead to the next four years, Americans expect both sides to make
compromises to get more done, though they are not sold on the reality of this
happening. Less than half (43%) of respondents think it's likely that, over
the next four years, the President and Congress will work together more than
they did in the previous four, and there's considerable doubt about the budget
situation improving.

"Fully aware of the challenges ahead, Americans want their leaders to
compromise on a range of issues from the deficit and stabilizing Social
Security to creating jobs and improving education. Americans consider the
budget deficit and national debt to be top priorities for elected officials in
Washington, and we know from our research that more than half of Romney voters
and nearly six-in-ten Obama voters support compromise across party lines to
address our current challenges," said Joan Walker, executive vice president of
corporate relations for Allstate. "The country wants the leadership in
Washington to move past the partisan gridlock and come together, even if it
means bending or breaking some hardline stances."

Americans say that the most important issue for policymakers should be
addressing the debt and the budget deficit, but they balk at the idea of
cutting the debt through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts.
Ultimately, Americans want solutions to the country's budget woes, but they
are highly protective of entitlement programs and they endorse continued
public investment in infrastructure.

These results speak to the significant challenges faced by policymakers as
they address not only the immediate task of avoiding the fiscal cliff, but
also a long "to do" list over the next two to four years. And despite the
significant challenges facing the country, the poll once again finds enduring
signs of optimism.

"As from the beginning, the latest Heartland Monitor poll reveals that the
strains of the Great Recession and its grueling aftermath have not cracked the
public's bedrock optimism that America can meet the complex political and
economic challenges confronting it," said Ronald Brownstein, editorial
director of National Journal Group. "Exactly two-thirds of those polled say
they believe the nation will eventually overcome these challenges—just as
we've done with other major challenges throughout our history. Yet also like
earlier surveys, this poll finds that optimism tempered by the fear that the
hard times of recent years represent a new normal of diminished opportunity,
particularly for young people, and widening insecurity."

Key findings from the 15th Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll
(PDF) include:

1) The highest priority on America's to-do list is to address the budget
deficit and national debt. However, Americans are also highly protective of
Social Security and Medicare, another high priority issue that can be at odds
with debt reduction efforts.

  oA vast majority of Americans (83%) believes the budget deficit and
    national debt should be the top priorities for elected officials in
    Washington, followed by the status of Social Security and Medicare (82%)
    and the availability of good-paying jobs (79%).

     oIssues of lowest priority to Americans include the status of illegal
       immigrants (53%) and the state of the housing market (49%).

  oConsistent with previous Heartland Monitor polls, Americans are split
    roughly in thirds on the proper role of the federal government in the
    economy. 37% believe that government is not the solution, but the problem;
    28% would like to see an active role for government in the economy but
    lack trust in their ability to do so effectively; 31% believe the
    government must play an active role in ensuring the economy works for
    "people like me."

  oWhen considering the most pressing economic issue facing the United States
    today, jobs and unemployment top the list with 30%, followed by spending
    (19%) and the deficit (15%) and wages not keeping up with prices (11%). 9%
    chose the "fiscal cliff" as the most pressing issue. Just 6% chose taxes
    as the most pressing issue.

     o51% of Democrats are concerned about jobs or wages while 54% of
       Republicans worry more about spending or the deficit.

2) While Americans are focused on near-term solutions to address the debt and
deficit, a plurality of Americans (43%) believe investments in education,
training, infrastructure, and research, would do the most to help the country
improve in the long-term, even if it means continued deficits and tax

  oIn terms of longer-term efforts to improve the country, the top priority
    for Americans is a broad improvement in the education system to make it
    more affordable, accessible and relevant to today's job market.

  oWhen it comes to protecting our country's global competitiveness,
    Americans believe there should be renewed focus on improving early
    education in America, ensuring that more children learn fundamentals and
    graduate from high school.

  oInterestingly, when given the choice between two possible approaches for
    governing, 55% think that President Obama should take a visionary
    approach, focusing on long-term goals for the future. 40% believe he
    should focus on a practical approach to addressing our near-term

  oRepublicans are alone in favoring a near-term practical approach (52%),
    while majorities of Independents (52%) and Democrats (65%) prefer a more
    long-term visionary approach.

3) Americans are more positive about the direction of the country and about
President Obama than they have been in quite some time. However, they're still
conflicted about the impact of Obama's policies.

  o41% believe the country is heading in the right direction, while 50%
    believe things are off on the wrong track. This is the highest right
    direction number since the first Heartland Monitor poll in April 2009.

     oRight Direction has now improved four surveys in a row, indicating that
       the positive swing may be about more than just post-election

     oDemocrats are the most optimistic, with 77% believing the country is
       headed in the right direction, up from 71% in December. Independents
       increased modestly from 26% to 32%, while Republicans only inched from
       7% to 9%.

  oAt 54%, President Obama's job approval is up five points from September
    (49%) and at its high point since the second Heartland Monitor in July
    2009 (56%).

     oHowever, the President is still a very polarizing figure. 93% of
       Democrats approve of the job he's doing, while 87% of Republicans
       disapprove. Independents are nearly evenly split (48%-46%).

     oA majority of whites (54%) disapprove of the job he's doing, while
       African-Americans (84%) and Hispanics (78%) give him a strong

  oAmericans are in wide agreement on their dislike of Congress. 72%
    disapprove of the job Congress is doing, while only one-in-five (21%)
    approve. This is consistent across party lines.

  oWhen it comes to developing solutions to the country's economic problems,
    the President has his biggest advantage over Republicans in Congress since
    September 2009. 48% trust President Obama, while 32% trust Republicans in

4) Americans are generally optimistic about the direction of the economy and
their personal finances. However, looking ahead over the next four years,
there are some doubts about whether the country's fiscal challenges will
improve. And, there is strong evidence to suggest that the Presidential
election results have caused some to worry about their financial future.

  o44% expect the economy to improve over the next 12 months, while 31%
    believe it will become worse and 22% expect it to stay about the same as
    it is.

     oThere is undoubtedly a political aspect to this opinion. 75% of
       Democrats and 74% of Obama voters believe the economy will improve over
       the next year while 63% of Republicans and 66% of Romney voters think
       it will get worse.

  oLooking ahead to the end of Obama's second term, by that point, 51%
    believe the country's economy will improve and just 27% believe it will
    become worse.

  oRegarding their personal financial situation, Americans are the least
    confident they've been in more than a year. This is notable because it
    contradicts the improving Right Direction sentiment and flies in the face
    of many positive economic indicators.

     o39% believe their personal financial situation will improve over the
       next year, while 36% think it will stay the same and 22% think it will
       become worse. The 22% "worse" number is up from 13% in September and
       the highest we've measured since 23% in March 2011.

     oThe increase in personal financial concern is being driven largely by
       Republicans. In September, 30% believed their finances would improve
       over the next year and 21% thought they would become worse. In this
       poll, just 15% think their finances will improve while 44% believe they
       will become worse.

5) Looking ahead to the next four years, Americans expect both sides to
make compromises to get more done though they are not sold on the reality of
this happening. Regardless of the actions of policymakers, they ultimately
believe that the country's problems can be overcome as Americans have always
done in the past.

  oRegardless of who they supported in the recent election, Americans expect
    both parties in Washington to work together and make compromises to get
    more done, even if it means bending on some policies and preferences.

     o59% of Obama voters think that he should compromise with Republicans in
       Congress as opposed to remaining firm in his views.

     o54% of Romney voters want Republicans in Congress to compromise with
       President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

  oLess than half (43%) think it's likely that over the next four years the
    President and Congress will work together more than they did in the
    previous four. 45% believe things will be about the same between the
    President and Congress and 10% think there will be less cooperation.

  oStill, considering the challenges facing the country, including the
    deficit and debt, the slow recovery, high unemployment and deep political
    divide, a strong majority of Americans believe the country will overcome
    these challenges as it has in the past with other problems.

     o67% believe that "Americans will overcome these challenges in the
       foreseeable future, just like we've done with other major challenges
       throughout our history."

     o31% think that "Americans are facing a unique set of challenges that
       are so serious that we might not be able to overcome them."

     oThis belief in Americans' ability to overcome challenges crosses party
       lines, with 54% of Republicans joining 62% of Independents and 85% of

About Allstate
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held
personal lines insurer known for its "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®"
slogan. Now celebrating its 80th anniversary as an insurer, Allstate is
reinventing protection and retirement to help nearly 16 million households
insure what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow. Consumers access
Allstate insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services
through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive
financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada, as well as via and 1-800 Allstate®. For an overview of the other
Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Polls, visit Additional information is available

About National Journal Group
National Journal is Washington's premier source for 360-degree insight on
politics and policy. With up-to-the-minute breaking news and analysis at, the essential intelligence of National Journal Daily, the
knowledge and depth of National Journal magazine, and the comprehensive
campaign coverage of National Journal Hotline, National Journal delivers
everything you need to know to stay ahead of the curve in Washington.

About FTI Consulting
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping
organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex
legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 3,800 employees
located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with
clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in
areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory
issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The
company generated $1.56 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2011. More
information can be found

SOURCE The Allstate Corporation

Contact: Kate Hollcraft, Allstate,,
+1-847-402-5600; or Matthew Clark, FTI Consulting, , +1-202-728-8766; or Natalie Raabe, The
Atlantic, , +1-202-266-7533
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