But we are less clear about public spending. We appear to be in denial about the full scale of the problems facing public finances. Three-quarters of us think that we can cut spending through efficiency savings alone, without hitting frontline services. And we're split over whether to cut spending or raise taxes.
As the FT reported last week, the public hasn't yet faced up to the prospect of spending cuts. Although all the party leaders are now talking "cuts", they are all suggesting that the cuts will be relatively painless - focusing on waste and unnecessary programmes, rather than frontline services.
Our recent report on Public Sector Cities highlighted the likely impact of public spending cuts on cities like Newcastle, Sheffield and Swansea. Currently, 1 in 3 jobs in those cities are public sector jobs. By 2014, public sector employment could shrink in UK cities by around 250k jobs. But like those questioned by Ipsos MORI, this hasn't quite registered yet with most people.
Vince Cable set out an initial hitlist of spending cuts in Bournemouth. But Gordon Brown didn't reciprocate in his conference speech, choosing instead to set out a shopping list of self-financed spending priorities.
We'll be in Manchester over the next week, listening out for any more info on the Conservatives' spending plans. Will David Cameron and George Osborne be any clearer? **UPDATE: Sun 4 Oct - David Cameron just told Andrew Marr that the Tories would start to cut spending in 2010, rather than 2011. But he was a bit uncomfortable when Marr pressed him on the "human cost" of public sector job losses.**
It now looks like the Pre-Budget Report in November will add some more detail, and will include a mini-spending review for the 3-year period starting in April 2011. Alistair Darling will set out departmental spending totals for 2011-14, as part of his plan to halve the deficit over the next 4 years. New efficiency targets will be announced, e.g. through the Total Place initiative - which aims to cut out £billions of duplication in the delivery of local public services.
I'm glad that the PBR will set out more detail on public spending, 2011-14. As I said in June, I would have preferred a full Spending Review before the next election - to clarify the position for voters. The decision to delay the Spending Review until after the election was clearly a political one, but Alistair Darling seems to have won the argument with Number 10 that more detail is needed now.
One final point. While the need for spending cuts is very real - around 10% for many departments - Government will still be spending hundreds of billions every year, from 2011 onwards. Once the plans for cuts have been identified, the main parties should flip the cuts rhetoric on its head and highlight what they will actually spend money on. Yes, we need to know what will be cut - but we also need to know what the parties would invest in.