Ahead of this week's Mid Year Economic Forecast and an expected round of spending cuts, voters would prefer Wayne Swan to delay the return to surplus, according to today's Essential Report.

Only 13% of voters support returning to surplus in 2012-13 if it means cutting services and raising taxes. Seventy one per cent preferred that the return to surplus be delayed. The sentiment was across party lines, with 82% of Greens voters preferring delay, 76% of Labor voters and 68% of Coalition voters. Sentiment against a return to surplus in 2012-13 is sharply up since April when, on the separate question of what measures should be taken to return to surplus, 38% said "there's no need to return to surplus so quickly". Now that figures stands at 58%.