CNN/ORC Poll: Most Americans dislike debt deal, think lawmakers acted like 'spoiled children'
August 2nd, 2011
10:00 AM ET
3 years ago

CNN/ORC Poll: Most Americans dislike debt deal, think lawmakers acted like 'spoiled children'

(Updated 12:05 p.m. ET)

(CNN) - A majority of Americans disapprove of the deal struck Sunday by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders that will raise the country's legal borrowing limit, and three out of four believe elected officials have acted like "spoiled children."

According to a CNN/ORC International poll conducted Monday during a House of Representatives vote on the legislation, 52 percent of Americans say they are opposed to the debt ceiling deal while 44 percent are in favor of it. The Senate passed the legislation Tuesday in a 74-26 vote.

Full results (pdf)


"Everyone disapproves of some part of the debt ceiling compromise," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Republicans dislike the increase in the debt ceiling through 2013, Democrats dislike the lack of tax increases on businesses and higher-income Americans, and independents dislike both of those provisions."

The spending cuts in the agreement were the only popular part of the bill, winning support from two-thirds of the public.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said elected officials who have dealt with the debt ceiling have acted like spoiled children. Just 17 percent believe the politicians have acted like responsible adults.

So who won the debate over the debt ceiling?

"When three-quarters say that elected officials are behaving like spoiled children, it's probably safe to say that there are no winners," Holland said.

READ MORE: How They Voted

READ MORE: Debt Deal Cheat Sheet

The overall approval rating for Congress, now at 14 percent, is at an all-time low. Sixty-eight percent of respondents disapprove of how the Republican leaders in Congress handled the debt ceiling, 63 percent disapprove of Democratic leadership and 53 percent disapprove of President Obama's role in the agreement.

Obama's overall approval rating holds steady at 45 percent, but his support among liberals, at 71 percent, remains at a record low and more than half of all Democrats say he gave up too much in the debt ceiling deal. Just one-third of Republicans polled said their party's leaders gave up too much in the agreement.

The poll was conducted on Monday night, with interviews done both before and after the vote on the bill in the House of Representatives. "Some were unaffected by the House vote and none reflect the Senate's actions on Tuesday," Holland noted. "Final passage of the bill - particularly if it is by big margins - may affect public attitudes towards the debt ceiling agreement, since Americans tend to like a winner. The poll shows how Americans felt on Monday night, not how they will feel next November - or even next Monday, for that matter."

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International on August 1, with 860 adult Americans were questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted both before and after the House of Representatives vote on the issue on Monday night.

–CNN Polling Director Keating Holland and CNN's Jeff Simon contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • Congress • Debt
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    One solution is term limits. Politicians would stop acting as if getting re-elected was their priority if getting re-elected wasn't their priority. And we can make it be so. We don't need to wait for them to limit their terms. We don't have to keep re-electing representatives and senators for 30 years running. We don't have to re-elect them at all. Either become active in the process of selecting primary candidates in your state, vote for the opposition candidate, or write in a candidate. We've got to quit voting as if our only choice is a bad candidate in "our" party or nothing. If the most reasonable person running is in the party you don't generally vote for, go with reasonable instead of party. We can't expect elected representatives to put reason before party if we don't do it ourselves.

    August 2, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. James B

    Clearly, if the poll was worth its salt, it should have asked which politicians acted irresponsibly. The answer would have come back in the 80 percentile range and congressional republicans would be to blame. I am disappointed the president failed to fight this group. Increasingly, it seems it doesn't matter who leads, we are all going down the creek without a paddle. Democrats have no fire in the belly and Republicans have no answers that don't involve tax breaks for the wealthy, more war spending and deregulation. Folks, if we don't take control of this mess (voting) we are doomed.

    August 2, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. RandiRN

    Hey Ralph, you should check your facts before you post. Richard Chamberlain was an actor, Neville Chamberlain got off the airplane holding the treaty with Herr Hitler! I do agree with you folks, these people in Washington have shown their true colours. They are a bunch of rich whinny folks who held the American public hostage. They caused the problems with idiotic laws, relaxation of the safeguards put in place by Franklin Roosevelt to prevent the financial meltdown we have witnessed. When banks became insurance companies and insurance companies became banks it was the beginning of the end. When America stopped making real things, and became a society that doesn't produce anything but move paper it was the beginning of the end. Folks, America's time in the sun is at an end unless we get some leaders with balls to do the right thing, rather then what they think will get them reelected.

    August 2, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. jay b. fair

    I would like to thank everyone who voted for the Teapartyers' in the last election. Thanks for screwing middle class, working class Americans( and Yes, I am a veteran). the Teaparty contingent in Congress has done more harm to our country in eight months than has been done at any time since the Civil War. Way to go American voters! you wanted change, you got it!

    August 2, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Carlton

    What do expect, they are just a reflection of our society in general. If you don't get your way, act like an !@#!!!

    August 2, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. Tekk

    They are all spoiled children that want more. Problem is that we have enabled them.
    I am not a parent, but know enough of them to know that if you keep spoiling children, they become really worthless and will want everything done for them.
    Perfect description of Washington in my opinion. Both sides, from the top on down.

    August 2, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. czbear

    If the president of the USA has to be limited to 2 terms, why shouldn't it follow that they Congress should be limited also?
    If Congress wants to save money, why not cut their salaries, perks etc? Think of the money we could save. Make them have the same Medicare as Seniors instead of what they have. In other words, let them survive on what the people have.
    If the American people are so upset, remember in the next election and vote the bums out.

    August 2, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. monnie

    count me in with those who are surprised that only three-fourths of us think congress acted poorly – like a bunch of spoiled bullies who would not budge one bit for their own personal, ideological reasons, not for the good of the american people; shameful; we will get our revenge at the ballot box and these newcomers will be long gone from d.c.

    August 2, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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