Even Republicans were wary of slicing into those programs, with 47% saying it was more important to preserve Social Security and Medicare, versus 44% who said it was more important to reduce the deficit.
However, one key Republican constituency -- those who align themselves with the Tea Party -- strongly backed deficit reduction measures over maintaining entitlement benefits. Among self-described Tea Partiers, 57% said reducing the deficit was more important than preserving current entitlement benefits.
In addition, wealthier Republicans were more favorable toward entitlement cuts than less affluent GOPers. Sixty-two percent of Republicans earning under $30,000 per year said preserving entitlement benefits should supercede deficit reduction, versus 33% who said the opposite. Among Republicans earning more than $75,000, 63% said entitlement cuts should be on the table, while 29% said otherwise.
The Pew poll was conducted June 15-19 among 1,502 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of 3.5%.