CNN Poll: Strong partisan divide on debt ceiling
July 21st, 2011
11:47 AM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Strong partisan divide on debt ceiling

Washington (CNN) – Americans are hungry for a solution to the debt ceiling debate but there is a big partisan divide that isn't going to make a solution easy to achieve, according to a new national survey.

And a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicates that while Democrats and independent voters are open to a number of different approaches, Republicans draw the line at tax increases, and many of them oppose raising the nation's debt ceiling under any circumstances.

"That may create a problem for the Republican party, because most Americans think that GOP has been acting irresponsibly in the debt ceiling talks and they will blame congressional Republicans, not President Barack Obama, if no action is taken on the debt ceiling by August 2," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey's Thursday release comes as time is running out to reach an agreement on a deficit reduction deal which increase the government's borrowing limit, so it can continue to pay its bills after August 2. If Congress fails to raise the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by that date, Americans could face rising interest rates, a declining dollar and increasingly jittery financial markets, among other problems.

Eighteen percent of people questioned say that if the debt ceiling is not raised, it would cause a crisis, with another 43 percent saying it would create major problems for the country. Three in ten say a failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause only minor problems and six percent say no problems would occur.

As expected, there's a partisan divide.

"Democrats and independents predict that not raising the debt ceiling will create a crisis or major problems in the U.S." adds Holland. "Roughly half of all Republicans think that will create only minor problems or no problems at all."

The survey is the sixth poll released over the past week to indicate that a solid majority of the public want any agreement to raise the debt ceiling to include both spending cuts and tax increases. Sixty-four percent of people questioned in the CNN/ORC survey say they want a budget plan with both spending cuts and tax hikes for businesses and higher-income Americans.

Again, there's a partisan divide, with 83 percent of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of independents but just 37 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of self described tea party movement supports saying they prefer a combined approach. A majority of Republicans and tea party supporters prefer a plan that only includes spending cuts.

"Democrats and independents don't see anything wrong with raising the debt ceiling as long as Congress takes action to reduce the amount of money the government owes, and some of them are willing to raise the debt ceiling even without any action by Congress at all," says Holland.

"Republicans won't even go that far - a majority of GOPers oppose raising the debt ceiling even if Congress passes a budget plan."

According to the poll, Democrats and independents favor a plan that would cut $2 to $4 trillion and increase some taxes - something similar to the "Gang of Six' proposal by a bipartisan group of senators, or the "grand bargain" that the president has been advocating in recent weeks. Republicans oppose that approach.

Republicans like the "cut, cap, and balance" approach to the debt ceiling, as do Democrats and independents. Most Americans support a balanced budget amendment, and most, but not as many, think an amendment is necessary to get federal spending under control. A balanced budget amendment passed the House earlier this week, but a vote in the Senate is expected to fail.

But the poll indicates that few like the fallback plan to raise the debt ceiling. The proposal, first advocated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, would give the president the ability to raise the debt ceiling essentially on his own.

The poll indicates the Republican party is likely to lose the "blame game" if it comes to that. Most Americans think Obama has acted responsibly in the debt ceiling discussions so far, but nearly two-thirds say the Republicans in Congress have not acted responsibly. Fifty-one percent say they would blame the GOP if the debt ceiling is not raised; only three in ten would blame the president.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on July 18-20, with 1,009 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.


Filed under: CNN poll • Congress • Debt • Deficit • Polls
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Romney in 2012

    Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling without cutting spending. Not only does he lack common sense, but he has no idea how to lead the country. He slanders those that disagree with his ideology. He and his hack administration keep getting in the way of a true economic recover.

    Obama, Reid and Pelosi need to get out of politics.

    July 21, 2011 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. John

    I think the Republican need to start and compromise, and a deal can get done. The OATH all Republican took when they took Office was to the best Jobs they could for America. Not to any signing of Pledge and not to make the Tea Party happy. Your jobs Is To America and to All American People. NOT TO JUST SPECIAL GROUP OF PEOPLE. NOW START AND COMPROMISE AND DO THE JOB ALL AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE PAYING YOU FOR.

    July 21, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. B

    Thoughtless Partisanship is destroying this country and we all are allowing it to happen.

    July 21, 2011 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. betterdays

    Can will get kicked again. Trust me.

    July 21, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Republicans draw the line at tax increases"

    Well...we'll see about that...Norquist blinked.

    July 21, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Combine the numbers of GOP/Tea Party members supporting the combined effort with the poll numbers of Democrats and independents and you have a substantial majority of Americans, around 65 percent. Republican/Tea Party politicians should worry about being mostly to blame for the gridlock.

    July 21, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling without cutting spending."

    Oh? Do tell. Please show us all the quotes from him that prove it. Start with the one where he talks about $3T in cuts and $1T in revenue increases and go from there...

    July 21, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. TomInRochNY

    2012 can't come soon enough. Time to get rid of the extremists.

    July 21, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Joe

    There have already been tax cuts across the nation and with these meeting there are more cuts being discussed. These cuts are eliminating jobs in a nation with a 9%unemployment rate. The cuts are getting rid of the middle class and moving them into the lower class all for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans and Republicans. We should raise taxes on billionaires to help the debt crisis. Why should the majority of the nation's citizens continue to suffer in this bad economy. Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy when he was in office and it solved a similar problem. Democrats have already sacrificed and are willing to make more cuts (which they shouldn't). Republicans are the ones who are not being serious about this matter! They refuse to even talk about raising taxes on the wealthy. When more and more cuts are made, jobs are lost; the people will be angry and revolt. We have recently seen uprisings across the globe and if nothing positive is done, there may be one here in America.

    July 21, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. JRuss

    One week the president states that "excess money" that people have should be taken and given to others to pay for college tuition, and the next week he threatens to with hold social security payments. Not the type of politician that this independent agrees with.

    July 21, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. bb

    The debt ceiling deal is a separate issue from budget and other tangent arguments. The debt ceiling was raised over 20 times under Ronald Reagan and 7 under George Bush without all this grandstanding and political maneuvering during an election cycle. Raise the ceiling – avoid a lowered credit rating, which means a higher interest rate on $14T (you do the math). Argue about budget ideas after August 2. The obstructionist congress members need to be voted out in 2012.

    July 21, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Wes B.

    Romney in 2012: "Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling without cutting spending. Not only does he lack common sense, but he has no idea how to lead the country. He slanders those that disagree with his ideology. He and his hack administration keep getting in the way of a true economic recover."
    &
    TomInRochNY: "2012 can't come soon enough. Time to get rid of the extremists."
    ----–

    These are two of the most knowledgeable comments I've seen. Obama has talked at great lengths about cutting spending. He's put soooo much on the table–much more than his liberal base would like. Expressing the idea that Obama is an extremist is just incorrect. What are these people paying attention to?

    July 21, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Let's face facts. Republicans like to cut Education in order to dumb down the population enough so that they can get re-elected.

    July 21, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. juliei4

    The polls I have seen indicate that Americans want a compromise of spending cuts and revenue increases. So what I get from this whole thing is that the GOP is putting some signed pledge to some guy named Norquist above the United States and above the American people.

    July 21, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. SecedingfromTexas

    So, Reagan can raise the debt ceiling 17 times, and raise taxes 11 times, while raiding Social Security, and he is
    touted as the Teacan hero.
    Bush can raise the debt ceiling 7 times and cut spending, and that's OK too.
    But her they are, full of righteous indignation about spending, when they actually passed the budget and obligated
    America to these debts.
    Its great to cut spending, a little sacrifice on Congress' part wouldn't hurt, but we need revenue to catch up.
    If it was good enough for Reagan, why not now?

    July 21, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. SURPLUS = REVENUES - EXPENSES; if this is negative its a DEFICIT

    Republicans spend. They just do it on things like wars.

    They borrow money from China [and spend it] to give tax breaks to the rich. Those so-called "job-creators" that haven't created any jobs. We've tried this experiment for 10 years. It DOES NOT work.

    I get it that the GOP doesn't believe that additional revenue will only expand government programs. But that's a problem they've got to be firm in addressing when they approve spending. To make up excuses as to why additional revenue IS A BAD THING – - especially when it comes from taking away breaks for Gulfstream jets and yachts or taking away subsidies to oil& gas companies making RECORD profits or making a $100M-dollar-a-year hedge fund manager pay more than a 15% tax rate – - makes the Republicans not credible.

    July 21, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. Peter s

    People like "Romney in 2012" have only one source of news the rightwing propaganda noise machine aka foux news. I don't know whether you will become more dumber than a bag of hammers when the full force of the law catches-up with your grand pa murdoch!!

    July 21, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. John, PA

    We don't have a TAX problem, We have a SPENDING problem. We are being "Weinered" by Bernanke, Obama and all of the Democrats in Congress.

    Let’s include one specific Tax Increase.
    If you are a registered Democrat, vote Democratic or donate any money to a Democrat, you pay an additional 15% tax on all income, capital gains, money you take in.
    This will get the 51% that pay no taxes to have some skin in the game and share the sacrifice. This will get Warren Buffett, Teresa Heinz and the other bleeding heart liberals to pay their far share.

    July 21, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. SecedingfromTexas

    Sorry, meant to say "Bush cut taxes" , he certainly didn't cut spending, in fact went from surplus to deficit. My bad.

    July 21, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Al-NY,NY

    Romney in 2012

    Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling without cutting spending. Not only does he lack common sense, but he has no idea how to lead the country. He slanders those that disagree with his ideology. He and his hack administration keep getting in the way of a true economic recover.
    -----------------
    Used with permission from Sean Hannity, copyright 2011

    July 21, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. C. Howe Yulikit

    Romney 2012 – wow you keep repeating lies on the internet just like in real life.

    "Roughly half of all Republicans think that will create only minor problems or no problems at all."
    Here's an idea for all those Republicans – just stop paying your mortgage and see it "will create only minor problems or no problems at all"

    "A majority of Republicans and tea party supporters prefer a plan that only includes spending cuts."
    And when the sheriff comes to evict you, just tell him that you decided to cancel your Netflix account as a form os 'spending cut'.

    The majority of the those Tea Party Freshmen will be voted out of office in 2012.

    July 21, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Expressing the idea that Obama is an extremist is just incorrect. What are these people paying attention to?"

    Their own inner hatred comes to mind. Fueled by FOX News, Limbaugh (and a great many others) making millions in viewer revenues, as well as a lackadaisical American media more interested in creating news (and acrimony) than it is in reporting news. Hence, the raise of $arah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and the TeaParty ... all revenue king-pins, without substance.

    July 21, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. SURPLUS = REVENUES - EXPENSES

    I Congressman ______, do solely pledge that if, over my running two year term, the FEDERAL budget deficit does not continually shrink, I will not seek re-election. I will not make excuses as to why I was not able to perform to this standard.

    That's the kind of pledge I'd like to see.

    July 21, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Annie, Atlanta

    Romney in 2012 – that's a flat out lie. He wants to cut $4 Trillion dollars, including cuts in Medicare and Social Security. The spreading of ignorant misinformation is going to sink this country.

    Rudy NYC – also the Republicans want to privatize education to make money off of educating our children, i.e. the voucher programs.

    July 21, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Peter s

    "Republicans draw the line at tax increases, and many of them oppose raising the nation's debt ceiling under any circumstances." THIS IS what you get when you sent people who can't even spell the word budget let alone how it works to the congress!!! they rode the wave of the health care, now the reality has sunk in "even if they can't spell they have to govern" oops instead of governing their full time job is threatening Democratic ladies in the congress. Grrrrr I'm a teatard and I'm as mad as hell why accuse me of trying to pull the medicare plug on grandma!!

    July 21, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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