A plurality of Americans believes that the so-called sequester budget cuts harm the economy, even though most see little impact on their own families, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
The survey showed that 47 percent believe the sequester cuts mostly harm the economy, nearly three times the 16 percent who say they help. Another 30 percent say the cuts have no impact on the economy.
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At the same time, fully 58 percent say the cuts have had "not much" impact on their own families. Only one in six report "a great deal" or "quite a bit" of impact from the cuts to both defense and nondefense spending.
The poll also shows that Obama's approval rating has declined since the White House and Congress failed to reach an agreement last month that would have avoided the automatic cuts. Just 47 percent of Americans approve the president's job performance, down from 50 percent in February and 53 percent in December after Obama defeated Mitt Romney to win a second term.
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But the poll shows a majority of Americans on the president's side on two issues where he has a chance to break the political stalemate between congressional Republicans and his fellow Democrats.
On immigration, three in four Americans support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have jobs here. Such a provision is a key element of the comprehensive immigration reform Mr. Obama favors. Eight in 10 Hispanics—a top-priority constituency for Republicans as they look to future elections—back a pathway to citizenship.
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On guns, a 55 percent majority says laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict. Just 9 percent want such laws made less strict, while 34% say they should be kept as they are.
That sentiment reflects pressure on Congress to act on gun violence legislation as Obama has called for in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings. A bipartisan group of senators has been working on a bill that would exchange the current system of background checks on people seeking to buy guns.
The telephone survey of 1,000 adults, conducted April 5-8, carries a margin for error of 3.1 percentage points.