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. CPW

    I would have to agree. They let this get down to the wire. And now our credit rating will suffer because of a few people that didnt want to compremise.

    August 2, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. Richie

    Well CNN you got this one right...

    August 2, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. Louis

    More than spoiled children, this played out like a very, very bad movie.....Grade D, if that.
    But, this is not a movie. This is the real thing. People's lives are at stake. The Tea Party has totally transformed the Republican Party and the Speaker was afraid to make a move. I can just imagine what the next bout will be.

    August 2, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. John

    I can only hope that, for every member of Congress (but especially the GOP), this has been the worst summer of their lives. I hope their vacations have been ruined. I hope their spouses and children are foaming-at-the-mouth angry at them. I hope they have missed weddings, family barbecues and reunions, and other get-togethers. I hope they haven't played a single round of golf, spent a single day at the beach, or worn a pair of shorts or sandals or a tee-shirt all summer. I hope their air conditioning has been on the fritz and that they have been too damn busy to call anyone to come fix it. I hope they can't remember the last time they ate real food. I hope their personal lives have become one long, endless nightmare. No one ever, ever deserved it more. Please just go home for the rest of the summer before you break something else.

    August 2, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. Ben Dover

    I am listening to CNN and am shocked at the poll that CNN ran asking about politicians in DC acting like "spoiled brats". What does the American voters think they were doing when they elected rebel disrespectful partisans to Congress? It's the American people that are acting like spoiled brats at the polls! Washington is just a reflection of their attitudes and yes it is shameful!

    August 2, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. sam

    The 17% that think they were responsible adults are probablypoliticians. They same with the 14%. Who else could it be?

    August 2, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. Becky

    My comments probably won't be anything new, but I definitely think all of the politicians in Congress are acting lilke immature jerks who are more interested in granstanding for the press than in getting in and getting the job done. At this point, I DON'T CARE whose fault this whole fiasco is – we're paying these guys (ALL of them – on BOTH sides of the aisle) to fix it already, and fix it before it becomes an even worse problem.

    August 2, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. MiketheElectrician

    That is what happens when you get so many freebies. I say they should be paid minimum wage, their personal assets frozen while they serve in office, and get healthcare like in a small corporation or business, not in the millions of federal workers. If they get paid like low to middle income people, and have to pay for haircuts, etc, then maybe they will act like adults. And stop thinking money grows on trees!!

    August 2, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. Steve

    The Republicans can get their way because if Obama doesnt like thier ideas the bill doesnt pass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Psychology 101

    August 2, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  10. David

    Next election I will calmly vote out all incumbents.

    August 2, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. SarahTonin

    Why is the American public so outraged at the antics in Washington? It is a direct reflection of the voters behavior at the polls!! You voted for them Amurica ... duh!

    August 2, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. Penelope Pomegranate

    In what reality does one get out of debt by going further in?

    August 2, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Dj Rhyme

    The end of 2012 will be a defining moment. Meaning, the president can decide to raise the taxes by letting the Bush tax cuts expire. He can let them expire whether or not he gets reelectied.

    August 2, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. BinFL

    It seems that many fell for the Tea Party trickery in that you're now blaming President Obama for this mess. I do wish people would wake up and see the light that the Repubs, by using the Tea Party (AKA Repubs) will do anything to take down this presidency. Yes, I agree the President should have insisted on revenue increases but, remember, he wanted a much bigger deal which included 4 Tril in cuts but the Repubs wouldn't go along with closing loopholes (which was in the Ryan Plan that they ALL voted for)...go figure! Whatever this President is for, they are against even if they were for it before. Sadly though it seems their plan is working as President Obama's ratings are declining...it's just so sad!!!!!!!!

    August 2, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  15. MSfromCA

    Did they ask how many actually understood it? Who cares how many disapprove if they don't even know what it is. I suspect a lot of people were just reacting to the process rather than the actual plan. This "scoreboard" approach to everything is misleading and annoying.

    August 2, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  16. paul

    gee!!! YA THINK??????????????????????

    August 2, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  17. Tom Anderson

    The Tea Party is the only one with a clue. These cuts are only a down payment on the real fix. We need to cut 10+ TRILLION over 10 years, not this puny 2.1, Come up with cuts over 10 TRILLION and I might be willing to talk about raising taxes to start paying down some of this debt. Until the borrowing stops, I'm not interested in paying even more taxes.

    August 2, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. John

    The Tea Party Is the worse thing that ever happen to America, that come the Republican. They talk about want to cuts spending but they are not really want to or they would have agree to rise Taxes. you can't get the deficit down by cuts a long. to get to a Balance budget you are going to have To rise taxes and fix the tax subsides. We you people really want to get a balance budget than you are going to have to talk about taxes In some way.

    August 2, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. Darin Cline

    Out of the respondents of this poll, how many of them actually understand the deal well enough to approve or disapprove of it? Out of those who disapprove, how many can offer workable alternatives that are appealing to a wide variety of the population? Everyone is blaming the politicians, but they didn't get there by themselves. It's so easy to pass judgement on a topic we actually have no knowledge in. Everyone is busy looking out for themselves, and blaming everyone else. These polls are just another example.

    August 2, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. Scott

    Too bad so many liberals stayed home from the polls in 2010. We get the government we vote for (if we vote).
    Remember that in 2012.

    August 2, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Thai

    The 52% disagree with the deal, but for different reasons. That's what compromise looks like. If any significant political demographic loved the bill, then that demographic is either much more reasonable, or they got too much.

    August 2, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. dentalmagic

    That 17% that act as a adults would be the tea party members. They are actually doing what their contituents asked them to do. Anyone who disagrees with this probably is upset with their representative.

    August 2, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  23. John, PA

    We need term limits in Congress!
    The House and Senate politicians have built empires around themselves and it’s become so difficult to get them out, we need new members that will work for our interests not their next campaign for office.

    August 2, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  24. Ralph

    Shame on any elected Democrat for not standing up to the selfish Tea Party bullies.

    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 Hitler.

    President Obama, VETO this legislation and use your authority under the 14th amendment to raise the debt limit.

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

    August 2, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. Linton

    HEY! That's not nice – saying that spoiled children act as badly as our representatives!!!!

    i'll take a spoiled brat over Boehner, et. al. any day!!!!

    August 2, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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