Where Democrats and Republicans want their tax dollars spent

Written by: Randy Olson

Primary Source: Randal S. Olson

Last week, I revealed the shocking age divide in where Americans want their tax dollars spent. This week, I’d like to focus on where Democrats and Republicans agree and disagree on how American tax dollars should be spent.

To recap: I’ve been working with the UT Energy Poll on their latest poll for the past month, and I’ve had the chance to preview the issues that Americans think are important when voting for their representatives. This nationally representative poll asks Americans the question, “Where is it most important for the U.S. government to spend your tax dollars?,” and they’re given 8 options:

  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Health care
  • Infrastructure development/maintenance
  • Job creation
  • Military and defense
  • Social Security

We then break the answers down by various categories such as gender, political affiliation, level of education, etc. to see where Americans differ — and agree — in opinion. Here’s how the poll results look when broken down by political affiliation:

us-overall-political-impt-gov-spending

The options are ordered by overall preference — with “Job creation” sitting at #1 and “Infrastructure” dead last — to show where Americans want to see their tax dollars spent the most overall. The common contentions between Democrats and Republicans immediately reveal themselves in the middle of our national priority list: Democrats favor spending on health care, whereas Republicans would rather see those tax dollars spent on the military.

Republicans are also heavily against spending on the environment, which is an unfortunate political development within the past 20 years. Perhaps the most unfortunate trend revealed in this chart, though, is that no political party seems to think that energy, the environment, nor infrastructure are particularly important to spend tax dollars on. Meanwhile, Social Security sits in second place with both Republicans and Democrats agreeing that it’s important to pour tax dollars into.

With a climate crisis on the horizon and America’s failing infrastructure, we can only hope it’s just a matter of time until can Americans get their priorities straight.

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Randy Olson is a Computer Science graduate research assistant at Michigan State University in Dr. Chris Adami’s lab specializing in artificial intelligence, artificial life, and evolutionary computation. He runs a research blog where he writes about Python, scientific computing, evolution, and AI. Randy is an ardent advocate of open science and regularly travels the U.S. to teach researchers scientific computing skills at Software Carpentry workshops.