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“Modest reforms to pay and compensation will improve readiness and modernization. It will help keep our all-volunteer force sustainable and strong. Keeping faith also means investing sufficient resources so that we can uphold our sacred obligations to defend the nation and to send our sons and daughters to war with only the best training, leadership and equipment. We can’t shrink from our obligations to one another. The stakes are too high.”

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

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Sequestration and Defense Cuts: A Tale of Two Polls

National defense cuts have remained a significant part of recent political debate, with defense contractors threatening mass layoffs in the event of sequester. The Hill cited the results of our public opinion survey Tuesday while reporting on the latest lobbying effort to stop sequestration cuts:

A joint survey from the Stimson Center, Center for Public Integrity and Program for Public Consultation released in the spring found that respondents wanted to cut the Pentagon budget an additional $103 billion, after they were provided arguments supporting and opposing further cuts to the Pentagon budget.

Contextually, The Hill was comparing our findings to a new Aerospace Industries Association poll, which found that “80 percent of likely voters in five swing states… agree that sequestration should be reversed before the election.”

Questioning how two polls could show seemingly opposite public opinion data, The Hill rightly points out just how differently the two polls were framed. More importantly, however, the two polls actually asked entirely different questions. While the AIA poll only asked respondents whether or not they thought leaders in Washington should find an alternative to “sequestration,” our poll never actually used the word, and it was never intended to poll on the concept — instead we wanted to examine what Americans would do with the defense budget themselves, if they were given the opportunity, and they overwhelming made significant cuts.

In any case, it is good to see that our polling data is continuing to inform the debate.