Fifty-eight percent of people oppose any spending cuts to Medicare and 46 percent oppose any cuts in Medicaid, according to the poll, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. Medicare received the strongest support, after protecting public education.

Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health, says the public supports Medicare even more than the numbers let on. People feel very strongly about Medicare and consider it an important part of their lives, he says, calling it one of the biggest disconnects between the public and “official” Washington that he’s ever seen.

“The people we’re surveying think you should close maybe eight to 10 of the major Cabinet offices before you get to cutting this program,” Blendon said Thursday. In Washington, “Every meeting I go to is ‘let’s get it on the table, let’s start working.’”