A New Poll Shows Americans Don't Actually Understand Anything About The Deficit

Walter Hickey

A new Business Insider-SurveyMonkey Audience poll has found that Americans know shockingly little about the budget, federal deficits, and major top-line economic indicators. 

We asked about 500 respondents to write in an estimate of several different statistics, including the U.S. deficit. 

This year the Congressional Budget Office  expects it to be $642 billion , down from $1.087 trillion in 2012. That's the lowest it's been in five years. 

Does America realize that?

Nope.  

ECON poll chart
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ECON poll chart

Walter Hickey / BI, Data via Surveymonkey Audience

But what's even weirder is that even though people think the deficit is actually getting bigger, they don't really know what the budget deficit is. 

We asked them to estimate the annual budget deficit, which is $642 billion. 

So, this is a difficult question, and we really can't knock people for getting it wrong.  What we can knock them for, however, is getting it wrong by multiple orders of magnitude. 

If someone answered the question in the rage of hundreds of billions or trillions, they're probably in the right ballpark, or at least county. 

Many people, alas, did not. Most, it seems, actually significantly underestimated  the U.S. budget deficit:  

ECON1
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ECON1

Walter Hickey / BI, Data via Surveymonkey Audience



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