Introduction

In 2012, the Peterson Foundation launched the Fiscal Confidence Index to help policymakers, members of the media, and the American public gauge public opinion on the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges.

The Fiscal Confidence Index is an important indicator of the American public’s views about our fiscal and economic condition and the progress elected leaders are making in addressing it. Since its inception, the Fiscal Confidence Index has consistently shown that Americans hold deep concerns about the level of our long-term debt, and they urge policymakers to make addressing our fiscal and economic future a top priority.

The Fiscal Confidence Index, released monthly, is modeled after the Consumer Confidence Index and measures public opinion about the national debt and the economy by asking questions in three key areas:

  • CONCERN: Level of concern and views about the direction of the national debt.
  • PRIORITY: How high a priority addressing the debt should be for elected leaders.
  • EXPECTATIONS: Expectations about whether the debt situation will get better or worse in the next few years.

The individual scores in these three areas are averaged to produce the Fiscal Confidence Index value. For October 2020, the Fiscal Confidence Index value is 54 (100 is neutral).

Check back monthly for updates.


Detailed Results

Topline survey results from the Fiscal Confidence Index for October 2020. The FCI value for October is 54.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation commissioned this poll by the Global Strategy Group and North Star Opinion Research to survey public opinion on the national debt. The online poll included 1,009 registered voters nationwide, surveyed between October 19, 2020 and October 22, 2020. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. The poll examined voters’ opinions on the national debt, political leadership, and America’s fiscal and economic health.

The Fiscal Confidence Index value is derived from six questions in three categories: Concern, Priority, and Expectations. The October 2020 scores are: Concern (40), Priority (35), Expectations (86). For the complete methodology used to determine the Fiscal Confidence Index value, click here. For full results, including demographic information, download the PDF below:


Concern (40)

Thinking about our national debt over the last few years, would you say your level of concern has increased or decreased?

Is that a lot or just a little?

Increased a lot 45%
Increased a little 30%
Decreased a little 5%
Decreased a lot 3%
(No change) 10%
(Don't Know/Refused) 6%
INCREASED (NET) 75%
DECREASED (NET) 9%

When it comes to addressing our 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?

Do you feel that way strongly or just somewhat?

Right direction - Strongly 15%
Right direction - Somewhat 16%
Wrong track - Somewhat 27%
Wrong track - Strongly 37%
(Neither/Mixed) *
(Don't Know/Refused) 5%
RIGHT DIRECTION (NET) 31%
WRONG TRACK (NET) 64%

Priority (35)

Some people say that addressing the national debt should be among the President and Congress' top 3 priorities. Do you agree or disagree?

Do you feel that way strongly or just somewhat?

Strongly agree 43%
Somewhat agree 24%
Somewhat disagree 16%
Strongly disagree 7%
(Don't Know/Refused) 9%
AGREE (NET) 68%
DISAGREE (NET) 23%

And when it comes to our national debt, do you think it is an issue that the President and Congress should spend more time addressing or less time addressing?

Would you say a lot (more or less) time or just a little?

A lot more time 40%
A little more time 36%
A little less time 6%
A lot less time 6%
(The same amount of time) 4%
(Don't Know/Refused) 8%
MORE TIME (NET) 76%
LESS TIME (NET) 12%

Expectations (86)

And thinking about our national debt over the next few years, do you expect the problem to get better or worse?

Is that much (better or worse) or just somewhat (better or worse)?

Much better 12%
Somewhat better 21%
Somewhat worse 31%
Much worse 26%
(No change) 2%
(Don't know/Refused) 8%
BETTER (NET) 33%
WORSE (NET) 57%

And when it comes to our national debt, are you optimistic or pessimistic that the United States will be able to make progress on our national debt over the next few years?

Would you say you are very (optimistic or pessimistic) or just somewhat?

Very optimistic 9%
Somewhat optimistic 39%
Somewhat pessimistic 30%
Very pessimistic 12%
(Neither/Mixed) 3%
(Don't Know/Refused) 6%
OPTIMISTIC (NET) 48%
PESSIMISTIC (NET) 42%

For Press

NEW YORK — In the waning days of the 2020 campaign and as the nation continues to endure the coronavirus pandemic, voters remain deeply concerned about the record and rising national debt, according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s monthly Fiscal Confidence Index. The October Fiscal Confidence Index, modeled after the Consumer Confidence Index, is 54 (100 is neutral), reflecting that America’s fiscal future is on voters’ minds as they head to the polls.

Read the Full FCI Press Release for September 2020

For media inquiries please call (212) 542-9200 or jrosen@pgpf.org.


Methodology

The Fiscal Confidence Index will be released monthly by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

The Fiscal Confidence Index value is based on six questions in three categories.

As is done with the Consumer Confidence Index, the first step in calculating the Fiscal Confidence Index is determining the "Relative Value" for each question. This calculation is made by taking the positive response for each question and dividing it by the sum of the positive and negative responses. Each question was asked on a four-point scale, and answers were weighted according to intensity, with the strongest responses counting twice as much as the middle responses ("much" better or worse answers count twice as heavily as "somewhat" better or worse answers).

The scores for the Concern, Priority, and Expectations categories are determined by averaging the scores derived from the two questions in each category.

The Fiscal Confidence Index value is converted from the Relative Value to place it on a scale on which 100 indicates equal positive and negative sentiment, while values below 100 indicate negative sentiment and values above 100 indicate positive sentiment.

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