CNN Poll: Partisan divides explain super committee failure
November 21st, 2011
11:56 AM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Partisan divides explain super committee failure

Washington (CNN) – As a congressional super committee appears close to announcing it has failed to come up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, a new national survey indicates most Americans support a plan that would include increasing taxes on the wealthy and major cuts in domestic spending programs.

But according to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, there's a partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans over tax increases and spending cuts that explains the inability of the 12-member panel to come to an agreement on a deficit reduction plan by Wednesday's deadline.

See full results (PDF)

The survey indicates that two-thirds of the public supports increasing taxes on higher-income Americans and businesses, with just 32% opposed to such a move by the super committee. That's a slight increase since early August, when the panel of six Democrats and six Republicans was created. And by a 60% to 39% margin, Americans back major cuts in spending in domestic government programs, basically unchanged from late summer.

But the poll indicates a partisan divide, with Republicans opposed to tax increases by a 59% to 39% margin and Democrats against spending cuts by a 57% to 42% margin.

What about independent voters, who are crucial to the outcome of presidential and congressional elections?

"Nearly seven in ten independent voters don't have a problem with raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. 'But independents also back major domestic spending cuts - something that Republicans favor but Democrats oppose."

According to the survey, Americans are overwhelming opposed to raising taxes on the middle class, which was never on the table, six in ten are against major cuts in military spending, and 57% are opposed to major changes to such entitlement programs as Social Security and Medicare.

"Cuts in defense spending - one of the likeliest possibilities if the super committee fails - have grown less popular. In August, when the super committee was formed, nearly half the public supported major cuts in military spending; now six in ten say that military cuts are a bad idea," adds Holland.

So who gets the blame for the super committee's inaction?

"Neither party comes out very popular, but the approval rating of the GOP leadership in Congress has fallen further, and harder, than the same measure for congressional Democrats," says Holland.

In March, both parties' congressional leadership had the backing of about a third of the public. Now, the GOP leadership's rating has fallen 13 points, to just 21%. The Democratic leadership has also dropped, but only by six points, and their approval rating is now 29%, eight points higher than the GOP.

Those numbers tend to confirm the findings of a CNN poll released last week that show that a plurality of Americans would blame the GOP more than the Democrats if the super committee did not come up with a deficit reduction plan.

With a Monday deadline ahead of a mandated Wednesday vote on any deal, super committee members now say they are focused on how to announce that they've failed to reach any agreement. Such a failure would force automatic budget cuts, but those won't kick in until January 2013.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International Poll from Nov. 18-20, with 1,019 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 report.


Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • Deficit commission
soundoff (319 Responses)
  1. mec1353

    This is it, let's stop mocking Europe and their so-call inability to make decisions!. We are not any better here! shame on us, the so-called greatest nation.....

    November 21, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. RussFrom LA

    As usual CNN and the main stream Propaganda club run tax increases and Tax Cuts as the ONLY options. No is discussion the fraud committed by the banks and how they're STILL STEALING from the system causing the problem.

    November 21, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. Abresh

    It's time for the conservatives to realize that their 50 years of laissez-faire is what got us into this situation in the first place.

    That and their insistence on cutting taxes on the rich who then shoved that money into their adamantium lined pockets and didn't release it to the public economy like they should have.

    November 21, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. dancinfool

    The question seems loaded. It doesn't count the millions who don't identify with either Republicans or Democrats.

    November 21, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Bwiley

    Too funny...an article about partisanship, political divisiveness, and ineffectiveness, followed by mostly partisan, divisive, ineffective finger-pointing comments. Rest easy that as immature as our government has become, it is still a direct reflection of the majority of us.

    November 21, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Kevin in Atlanta

    So why can't we lock them in a room? I mean LITERALLY lock them in a room until they come to a compromise?

    November 21, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. FederalPanda

    There's surprise that people elected to represent a divided country are also divided? The problem with a Democracy is that if people decide that they don't care or that they want to screw it up, it fails or gets screwed up. Washington D.C. functions at an intelligence level representative of that of the people and shares our inability to compromise. You can blame a Representative for 2 years, a President for 4 years, and a Senator for 6 years, but if you've still got problems on the 7th year – well, then the people are to blame.

    November 21, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. Cecil D. Gwyn

    It is pitiful how our government officials and politians act when a crisis is taking place. It is akin to fighting in a burning house. Instead of trying to put out the fire, they are fighting over who puts it out, and how to put it out. Meanwhile, the whole blasted place is going up in flames !! Personally, I'm sick of it!!

    November 21, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. James

    I'm sure if the white house was given full authority to handle the debt issue if and only if the super-committee failed to hit their deadline there definitely would have been a deal by now. Of course, the republicans would have never have allowed themselves to be backed into a corner like that. Since the triggers don't go into effect until 2013, the consequences for failure have no teeth, and so there is no political will to succeed. How typical of congress.

    There needs to be a serious call for reform of elections and campaign financing. We can not afford to hand over our democracy to the corporations and lobbyists, whose endless piles of money overpowers the will of the people. Greed may be the law of the land for capitalism, but it absolutely destroys democracy.

    I don't care if you are a liberal or a conservative, we are not getting the representation we deserve. Unite for a cause that is bigger than the petty differences between parties. Stop letting the pundits and the hyperbole manipulate you into thinking the right or the left is the problem. We are all responsible for dysfunction of our government.

    It is time to own up!

    November 21, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. DMS

    I despise conservatives.

    November 21, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. Larry

    In the Department of Defense we have 900 military bases overseas. They should close the majority of these bases. That would not only save the cost of keeping them open but would bring a large number of out troops home and they would be spending their pay in our country instead of helping the ecomomy of all the ofhter countries. The United States has far too many problems of it's own and should stop trying to solve others and take care of our country.

    November 21, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. galbiston

    It is apparent that our current congress has forgotten that compromise in government was one of the first realities of our political system recognized by Jefferson and Washington over 200 years ago. The only concern of the self serving idiots in congress, on both sides of the aisle, is getting reelected. We can solve that.

    November 21, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Coflyboy

    Even the right-wing conservatives know that the GOP is working toward THEIR best interests and not the people's or this country's best interests. They are simply corrupt. Even millionaires are telling the GOP to tax them. GOP is hard of hearing unless it lines their own pockets. No less corruption than in... say...Afghanistan or Uganda.
    Unfortunately, voting them out won't work. Voting in America has nothing to do with how people vote. This is how messed up my country is.

    November 21, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Shaun

    I have worked extremely hard for what I have. I have a good job & own 2 small businesses for extra income. If the Democrats want to raise taxes on me, fine. Of course, I'll have to close my 2 businesses & lay off 3 employees. My net income will be the same; the government's tax revenue from me will be about the same. The difference is 3 employees will now be without a job.

    This is the core problem with raising taxes. People aren't going to work twice as hard so they can give the government more of their money.

    Also, I believe the problem we have isn't fixable. Our population is increasing while at the same time, efficiency is increasing. In a "perfect" world, every couple would have 2 children (no increase in consumption nor production) and no technology innovation. We need to start looking forward & figuring out how we need to be living our lives in the future instead of looking back at the prosperity of the past and trying to figure out how we can get back there. We may very well be in the new "prosperity".

    November 21, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. omarsalman

    Fire All Republican in House and senate , Mission Accomplished .

    November 21, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. TheMovieFan

    Want to help reduce the deficit? Make it a law that no state can get more in federal spending dollars than it pays in federal tax dollars. Those welfare states that rely on federal dollars to keep their states running will need to learn personal responsibility real quick.

    BTW, most of those states that get more in federal tax dollars than they pay usually vote Republican.

    November 21, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  17. FLIndependent

    @ Howard – "obama has spent three years, using class warfare, and other divisive methods to polarize Americans. Now, thanks to obama, our country is in turmoil."
    ________________________
    You're obviously an Obama hater as everything you say is against the President. Could you at least try to be a little open minded and see that Congress is a major factor in our country's problems and the debt problem did not start with President Obama. People like you are part of the problem, not the solution!

    November 21, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. shybou69

    JFK is the president who lowered the highest tax rate. It had been 91%, which is probably where the modern Democrats would put it now if they could. JFK would be considered a right winger today.

    November 21, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. TxMik

    It doesn't matter that the American people are split like the debt committee. We are not all huddled in a room with the requirement to agree on a workable plan. I want leadership from those who have been entrusted to run the country. The term 'partisan bickering' is not an excuse to not get a job done well for the community of all Americans. For decades the American people have been calling to reduce the deficit and rope in spending. All the failed responses to those demands and all the lying government reports have brought us to the point where the debt interest itself has to be borrowed from China, a country that doesn't have our best interest in play. As a people we are responsible for these travesties on our society. Make your voices heard this time. Don't pick up guns or move to violence like so many other countries do, but speak, write and talk about what you want your representatives and congresspeople to do for the country....the entire country...not just the city in which you live. The selfishness and single-supporting-issue voting must be eliminated in favor of what's best for the country as a whole. These tough choices today exist, because as a people we didn't speak up loud enough or long enough to keep the people in our government accountable to the people.

    November 21, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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