Republicans may be in a tenuous political position as they try to navigate between tea party adherents and conservatives who want deep reductions in federal spending, and independents and swing voters who don't share the same zeal, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted Feb. 24-28. (Wall Street Journal story
; MSNBC "First Read" story
; Poll data
The poll found that 34 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of tea party movement supporters and 35 percent of voters who supported John McCain for president in 2008 say the top priority for them is scaling back spending and reducing the federal deficit.
However, key voting groups like independents, suburban women, seniors, and those in the 18-to-34 age group put much more emphasis on job creation and economic growth.
Forty percent of independents, 41 percent of suburban women, 35 percent of seniors and 39 percent of 18-to-34 Americans come down on the side of job creation and economic growth as the priority.
That compares to the 23 percent of independents, 24 percent of suburban women, 19 percent of seniors and 19 percent of those between 18 and 24 who say cutting spending and the deficit is most important.
Fifty-two percent in the poll said they were concerned that the Republicans in Congress will go too far in cutting programs to reduce the deficitand 51 percent say the same of tea party movement supporters on the Hill. Sixty-three percent are concerned that the Democrats will not push hard enough for spending cuts and 62 percent say the same about Obama.
The poll also tested public opinion on 26 different ways to reduce the deficit.
Most popular (supported by 81 percent) was a surtax on people making more than $1 million a year, followed by eliminating congressional earmarks (78 percent), cancelling funding for weapons systems the Pentagon says aren't needed (76 percent) and eliminating tax credits for the oil and gas industries (74 percent).
Least popular were cutting Medicaid funding (only 32 percent found that acceptable), cutting funding for Medicare (23 percent), cutting funding for kindergarten-to-high-school education (22 percent) and cutting Social Security (22 percent).
The remainder of those surveyed on each question answered "not sure."
Follow Poll Watch on Twitter
Visit the Poll Watch Home Page and see all the latest polls in one place