November 5, 2019

This week, the Peterson Foundation joined with the Financial Times to launch a new monthly poll examining Americans’ outlook on the state of the economy and the national debt.

The FT-Peterson US Economic Monitor will track voter sentiment on economic and fiscal issues for the twelve months leading up to the 2020 election.

The first poll, released on November 4, shows that while voters are divided on the strength of the economy, they are deeply concerned about our fiscal condition.

By a strong margin, likely 2020 voters believe that management of the national debt is on the wrong track (37% right direction/63% wrong track). Voters are concerned that the debt could harm economic growth and threaten key programs like Social Security and Medicare.

The poll was conducted by Democratic polling firm Global Strategy Group and Republican polling firm North Star Opinion Research on October 21-25. It surveyed an online sample of 1,005 likely 2020 voters across socio-economic groups and across the country, and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points at 95 percent confidence level.

The poll also includes an oversample to get a closer look at voters in battleground states. Battleground states include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Below is a more detailed look at the November results for a few key questions, and you can read more here.

November 2019 FT-Peterson US Economic Monitor

When it comes to managing the national debt, would you say things in the United States are heading in the right direction, or do you think things are off on the wrong track?

Right direction 37%
Wrong track 63%

Which of the following is the most significant effect of the national debt on the United States economy?

Could threaten programs like Social Security and Medicare 32%
Harms economic growth and the future incomes of U.S. households 20%
Interest on the debt limits resources available for other priorities (such as infrastructure, climate change, education, defense) 16%
Leaves government with less flexibility to respond to economic and other crises 9%
Reliance on foreign lenders reduces our global power and influence 8%
Undermines U.S. economic leadership role 6%
Increases the risk of higher interest rates 6%
Something else 2%

Which of the following do you believe is the biggest obstacle to managing the national debt?

Lack of leadership and political courage by elected officials 28%
Politicians refusing to consider spending cuts 27%
Partisanship in Washington 20%
Lack of long-term planning 14%
Politicians refusing to consider tax increases 7%
Something else 4%

Results from the FT-Peterson US Economic Monitor will be released on a monthly basis through the November, 2020 election.

National Debt Clock

See the latest numbers and learn more about the causes of our high and rising debt.


This series of infographics helps put some of today's most pressing fiscal debates in context.