Greece: Few Americans think debt trumps economic recovery

July 01, 2015, 3:27 PM GMT+0

Americans tend to think economic recovery should take precedence over repaying national debts, but most Americans aren't following the Greek debt crisis

Last night Greece officially fell into arrears with the IMF after failing to meet the deadline to pay 1.6 billion euros. After five years of bailouts and harsh austerity the Greek government had refused to meet the conditions attached to the latest tranche of funding which would have allowed it to repay the IMF. The radical leftist government of Alexis Tsipras has scheduled a referendum for Sunday in which the Greek people will decide whether or not to accept those conditions, with the vote being portrayed as a vote between continuing austerity or crashing out of the eurozone.

YouGov's latest research shows that only 10% of Americans are following the Greek debt crisis 'very closely' and 33% are following it 'somewhat closely'. Most of the public (58%) are either not following it very closely (26%) or not closely at all (36%). People in households with incomes over $80,000 a year are the most likely to be following the crisis, with 18% saying that they are following Greece's problems 'very closely'.

This is higher than in May, however, when only 26% of the public said that they were following the Greek debt crisis 'very' or 'somewhat' closely.

Americans do, however, think that Greece is at least somewhat important to the US. 16% say that the crisis is very important to the United States while 39% think it is somewhat important. Only 5% think it isn't at all important.

When Americans were asked whether they think it is more important for a country to pay back its debts or if it is more important to recover from an economic crisis, people tend to prioritize economic recovery (49%) over repaying debts (21%). Democrats (55%) are more likely than Republicans (39%) to say that economic recovery should be the priority, but Republicans also tend to put recovery over repaying debts, 39% to 27%.

Nevertheless, a large proportion of Americans (41%) think that in hard economic times governments should decrease spending. 18% think that governments should increase spending while 19% think it should be maintained. Cutting spending during tough times is particularly popular among Republicans (60%) but a third of Democrats (32%) also think that public spending should fall during tough times.

Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here.