With some exceptions, those polled saw more promise in the ideas that Obama offered in his speech than proposals Republicans are touting in Congress and in the 2012 campaign. The survey specifically identified the alternatives as proposals from the GOP or President Obama.
The most popular Republican proposal is the call to pass a constitutional amendment to cap federal spending at a fixed share of the economy and require Washington to balance its budget. Two-thirds of those polled thought that idea would be either very effective or somewhat effective at creating more jobs.
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But other cornerstones of the GOP agenda drew more modest support. Just 52 percent thought reducing corporate taxes would be very effective or somewhat effective at creating jobs. When it came to what respondents thought would lead to a big jobs boost, 50 percent cited repeal of Obama's health care law, and 47 percent cited both Mitt Romney's proposal to require Washington to repeal a regulation for each new one promulgated and an extension of George W. Bush's tax cuts for all earners.
Nearly as many (46 percent) thought that extending the Bush tax cuts would not be too effective or not effective at all. That was the most skepticism expressed about any GOP ideas — although at least 37 percent also said expressed doubt that repealing the health care law, limiting regulations as Romney proposed, or cutting corporate taxes would do much good.
Ideas Obama touted in last week's speech generally fared better. Three-fourths of those polled said they believed his proposal to cut taxes on employers who hire new workers, or provide a raise to existing ones, would be either very or somewhat effective in creating jobs. Seven-in-10 said the same about his proposal to provide state and local governments funds to prevent layoffs of teachers and police officers. Two-thirds rendered the same verdict on the idea of helping more homeowners refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates.
The element of Obama's plan that costs the most, and is most likely to attract support from congressional Republicans, actually polled the weakest: cutting the Social Security payroll taxes paid by workers and employers. Just 42 percent of those surveyed believed that would be even somewhat effective, while 52 percent thought it would have little or no effect
For the most part, reaction to these ideas showed remarkable consistency across most of the demographic fault lines. Partisanship, not surprisingly, was the big exception: Republicans responded much more favorably to the GOP ideas, and Democrats showed more enthusiasm for Obama's proposals. Other than that, one of the few telling contrasts came over tax cuts: Whites (at 51 percent) were much more likely than minorities (just 39 percent) to believe that extending the Bush tax cuts would significantly help create jobs.