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. Mark in Seattle

    Add me in with the 3/4 group. A little suprised it's not 100%.

    August 2, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Get house back in 2012

    The republicans sure looked like spoiled children or economic terorrists. Try this no compromise attitude at their homes and see how far it gets them at home.

    August 2, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "52 percent of Americans say they are opposed to the debt ceiling deal"

    Haha...gloat and take all the credit you want, GOPers....you'll only be riling your base, self-righteous echo chamber circle-jerk fashion. But that's ok, right? The plan all along has been "if we're going down, we're taking Obama and the Dems with us"...hasn't it?

    August 2, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. New Age Independant

    "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."

    A foretelling of the next Presidential election.

    August 2, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. GI Joe

    Folks in the House get every other week off, now they get 5 weeks of vacation. What are they being paid for? They do nothing - any of them. Sure, they dodged a crisis (self-created to give the appearance of "important stuff to get done".)

    August 2, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Charles100343

    But guess what,,,,,,,,you will keep on electing these same children.

    August 2, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. Tim M.

    Only 70% believe that Congress acted liked spoiled children...I would have bet that number would be higher. The number that really matters is the 52% that didn't agree with the deal. Hopefully all of these people will remember these actions when the next election comes around. You can really tell the true leaders by how they react to a crisis. Unfortunately, our 'Elected Leaders' are too concerned about how many votes it would cost them to do the right thing. Oh well, I don't want to see how they react to the next crisis, so they have lost my vote...and hopefully yours.

    August 2, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. ED FL

    President Obama ,if you have any shame at all after putting the screws to the American people and more than likely another term ,you VETO THIS BILL and Immediatley Institute your authority and GALL[Use the 14 amendment .Then let the house and senate spend the Summer coming up with legitimate Bills that will jelp instaed of hurt the American people.

    August 2, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. Yankees fan

    Spoiled children is the wrong analogy. Irresponsible adults is more accurate. Is this the new norm where a government shutdown or the country's default must go down to the wire every time?
    I think reality tv has some blame for this since these dramas are playing out again and again as it it were Snooki and a Housewife fighting for the last piece of cake all the while being watched by Big Brother in order to be the last Survivor.
    If real leadership is determined by the content of a person's character, our leaders have turned into caricatures of themselves. They are not spoiled children but there is merit to taking away some of their toys – like health care, salary, food – let them live with the fear that other Americans do each day.

    August 2, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. Fed up with the Feds

    This was merely a symptom of a much larger problem: not only is Congress full of inept and avaricious leaders, America is full of inept and avaricious followers. We all need to be doing our part. For some that means getting off the enabling entitlement programs and getting a job. For others–Koch Brothers and their ilk– it means paying higher taxes.

    August 2, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  11. JD in Moraga, CA

    "Seventy-seven percent of respondents said elected officials who have dealt with the debt ceiling have acted like spoiled children."

    The other 23 per cent were asleep at the time and couldn't be reached for comment.

    August 2, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  12. Newmoon

    It's good to know three out of four people have a firm grasp of the obvious!

    August 2, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. David

    I agree. Its like they are high school children. One party are the jocks the other the geeks. The jocks are bullying the geeks the geeks whine but ultimatly give in. Its pathetic but we will vote these same people into office in 2012. We need moderate politicians who are not slaves to their party and can make choices based on the facts on hand not their parties talking points.

    August 2, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Big_D

    Only children would do nothing about revenue and expect the debt to get better. The Tea Party has proven they are unfit to govern with this bad legislation.

    August 2, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  15. Frank

    I fully realize that CNN's coverage was very one sided during all of this. How many times did I hear a CNN employee refer to the Tea Party has extremist? (And don't get me started on Don Lemon!) The truth, which is getting very little attention, is that I elected my Tea Party representative to stop all of the bipartisan spending. This isn't radical or extreme. To me, this is simply common sense. I am grateful that I finally have someone in congress who is doing EXACTLY what they said they would do. All of this name calling by CNN, Democrats, the White House and even some Republicans is completely uncalled for. The Tea Party is truly representing their constituents. It is very refreshing. I will certainly vote Tea Party in every election.

    August 2, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. Kwesoe

    I don't think it is as much spoiled children as it is that they are like lazy dull students who always wait for the last minute to do their homework and expect to get passing grades. This budget crisis, or homework was assigned to them many months ago and they have been waiting until the last minute to resolve it. What a bunch of losers.

    August 2, 2011 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. Ralph

    Shame on President Obama for not standing up to the selfish Tea Party.

    The Democratic party has surrendered the best chance to restore taxes to realistic levels and thereby have the necessary tools to repair the damage caused by 8 years of President GW Bush policies.

    The Democrats "compromise" reminds me of Richard Chamberlain's placation of Adolph Hilter.

    Their kicking the can down the road will only make the inevitable that much harder.

    I am a registered Democrat for 40 years and I have NEVER missed voting in ANY election. I have never before said the following to any elected democrat; I am disgusted with YOUR performance.

    August 2, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. Joe from Ohio

    Let's face facts. The tax cuts for the rich were just too deep this time and started the deficit. We can't keep lowering taxes on the rich every time we get a Republican in the White House.

    August 2, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. walter

    they are and its disturbing that they don't pay there share of taxes to help this goverment with its debit

    August 2, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. Old Soldier

    It would be helpful if, from now on, members of the Tea Party Caucus be treated as a 3rd party distinct from and separate from members of the mainstream Republican Party. Arguably, the Tea Party contingent in the House and Senate are Libertarians who decided to run as Republicans given the poor success 3rd parties have in U.S. elections.

    August 2, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Mark

    The media wants America to comply with the liberal cause

    August 2, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  22. Anonymous

    How did this happen? Just before the last elections I, just like most of you, started getting a lot emails saying the voters should impose term limits by voting out incumbents. If they have been in office more than two terms, vote them out. The majority of these in the house were democrats. The voters were angry at congress because the health care bill had just been passed. They were angry because the bill would force them to buy insurance instead of having a public option that would have given everyone free health care paid with taxes. They were angry because they only got half of what they wanted, not that the bill passed. IT WAS A SLICK REPUBLICAN TRICK. Congressmen who knew how to govern were kicked out and the nice looking men and women who said what we wanted to hear were voted in and they turned out to be the suicidal lunatics of the tea party. Moral of the story: Don’t trust new faces and vote democratic no matter how angry you are at congress.

    August 2, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  23. Tyler Derden

    "We will not negotiate with terrorists." -Ronald Reagan

    Be careful what you vote for, you just might get it. Don't take any wooden nickels, conservative voters.

    August 2, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. Susanne

    Yes the politicians are acting like spoiled babies – but basically it is the Tea Party elected folks who are being so bratty. Poor John Boehner is a powerless eunuch. Are there no statesmen anymore? What happened to compromise which has always been a foundation of making government work. I recently said we had 3 parties in the US – the Democrats, the Republicans and the "Throw the Bastard Out" – maybe that 3rd party will reward our current congress with their just reward come next election.

    August 2, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  25. vic

    As a supporter of President Obama I'm disappointed in the way he gave into the right wing hostage takers. Cut, Cut Cut without raising revenue, hows that going to help create jobs, the trickle down theory hasn't worked yet what makes them think it will work this time. The big hit to the middle class is yet to come.

    August 2, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
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