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. rachael

    So, as an average American who works, pays taxes and supports a child I really have no party allegiance here. My question is as follows: What will the effect be on job creation and the growth of American businesses if we increase taxes on the wealthy? I support the increase of taxes on these groups in principle but I also realize we need to grow the businesses that create jobs for Americans. I don't want to see jobs continue to go oversees where there is a cheaper labor force. I would hate to approve increased taxes on the wealthy only to see it come back and bite us in the rear so to speak. I mean the wealthy don't have to live in the US, and they don't have to run their businesses here.

    November 21, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. John

    We don't have to go to the Senate floor to understand this - just have to read these comments to understand that cooperation and compromise will never happen. We're done.

    November 21, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Michael

    Change tax due date to same time as election. Each party works up a tax schedule to raise revenue to cover their programs and budget. Then when you vote, you check with party and then look up your tax. If you vote democrat for example, then you pay the higher taxes they want to cover all their programs. This way you get what you pay for and put your money where your mouth is!

    November 21, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. Pete

    How quickly people forget the cost of going to war in Iraq. The current president inherited the deficit, he didn't create it. Congress hasn't allowed him to do anything, for better or worse.

    November 21, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. DBG

    The headline of the CNN story (that the country is split like the deficit panel) is misleading. The deficit panel is split 50/50. By a wide majority, Americans in general and independents in particular, favor a balance of spending cuts and tax increases. To read your headline, one would think that the country was split 50/50 on the issue. Your lack of care with your words is apparent.

    November 21, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. Larry

    The Democrats are trying to make this a Socialist country. Ask the European countries how that worked out for them. The Democrats and George Sosos are doing their best to ruin the country. Meanwhile you should check and see how much Soros is making by shorting strocks(betting that the market will fall) .

    November 21, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. chedar

    The repukes lost seat in November 2012, they will blame the Tea Party and will approach the Occupu Wallstreet for help. Heh heh! that is how bad GOP are.

    November 21, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. BillyD1953

    Obama and the Dems have allowed the GOP to control the whole agenda. It's not the right time for deficit cutting. We need to spend more to stimulate the economy. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy need to be expired. The tax burden has been shifting from the wealthy to the middle class for decades. It hasn't produced any jobs at all despite GOP claims to the contrary. In fact, it has caused huge deficits and nothing more. The rich have become richer and the poor poorer from these policies. No good has come from it. Tax the rich harder and spend more on stimulus programs. Grow the economy first, then worry about deficit cutting later when people are back to work.

    November 21, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. Daveil

    It's an easy answer to assume you can just tax the rich because most people don't think that's them and then they greatly overestimate the revenue it would raise. But the real problem is it's like just giving a little more heroin to a junkie and expecting that will help him kick his drug habit.

    November 21, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. clinky

    I am sick of fear mongering propping up defense spending and putting it ahead of health care, education and infrastructure. The excuse used to be the missile race. Then it was Iraq and Afghanistan. Those three concerns are practically behind us now. We need a useful defense for our own country with a little left over to strategically help others, like Libya, as needed. No more than that.

    November 21, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. BLKMANinAmerica

    Right....................................this is just not true. The "public" did NOT put America into this situation. How about the American media just do the job of informing "the public" and stop already with the opinions.

    November 21, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. Bob Straight

    This divide between our citizens will not improve, but rather grow worse, unless responsible leadership is exercised by Democrat and Republican leadership and the media's talking heads tone down their rhetoric. Specifically, I believe most citizens parrot that which they hear from the political leadership and media talking heads. Zitizens do not think through the issues but rather are driven by anxiety, fear, and the need to blame someone for their personal problems. Responsible leadership and the media can change that equation, if they speak honestly and plainly to our citizens about the problems our nation faces, the sacrifices that all will have to make to address the deficit, and the change in standard of living that many, if not most, of us face. If we are truly in crisis, politicians must cease playing the issues for political gain and address what is best for the nation. Our citizens will follow and do so from an informed position rather than an emotion driven one.

    November 21, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. man in the middle

    We need a third party. The Republicans, Democrats, and the Middle Party (for all the rest of us). Either that or go to the Parliamentarian system so there wouldn't be a stalemate.

    November 21, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    stocks are down, so why is gold? Because it is manipulated like everything else!

    November 21, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Whoosh

    @John... do you have a six-figure annual income? Do you have a six- figure savings account? do you own six figures worth of stocks and bonds invested mutually for a six -figure return? Property? If not, be gone with that old beer party line of blame you can, whatever. You should be voting your pocket book, not mine.

    November 21, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. Tony

    These clowns should resign for failure of their JOB and COUNTRY!!! They were given ONE goal and given THREE months to do it. They could not come up with a plan!!! For all of you out there picking sides( Dems or GOP). Remember this HUGE thought. They were only trying to cut $1.2 Trillion over 10 years!!! REALITY – We are running a $1.2 Trillion deficit EVERY year for the last 3 and for the next 10 years. Why couldn't they come up with cutting 1% of the federal budget across the board??? The whole bunch( all 12 ), should resign over their failure. TERM LIMITS NOW!!!

    November 21, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. rkdres

    Americans are split?? Well there's a surprise. The partisan plague is destroying this country.

    November 21, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. Tom

    The "partisan divide" mentioned in the article does not reflect the values or expectations of the majority of Americans. The problem is that both political parties have been hijacked by partisans extremists who, out of greed or ignorance, refuse to seek the logical middle ground. I plan to quit the Democratic Party and join the coalition of informed people seeking a moderate path, and I will support any bona fide effort in this direction.

    November 21, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. Mani

    Is lesser of the two evils the only option? How about None of the above option?

    November 21, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. rkdres

    Americans are split?? Well there's a surprise.

    November 21, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. clinky

    I am tired of the Dept of Defense preying upon peoples' fears to put defense ahead of health care, education and infrastructure. The excuse used to be the missile race. Then it was Iraq and Afghanistan. Those three concerns are practically behind us now. We need a useful defense for our own country with a little left over to strategically help others, like Libya, as needed. No more than that.

    November 21, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. Soicanleavecomments OnBlogs

    Maybe would be a good idea to tax corporations way more which would cause more smaller family owned shops more practical.

    November 21, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. rkdres

    CNN, why would you need to moderate the following comment:

    Americans are split?? Well there's a surprise.

    November 21, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. The Greedy Old PIgs have declared class war on US!

    Wow, the (paid?) rightwing trolls are out in full force today, spreading tons of propaganda and manure for and about the GOBP deathcult. Nice attempts to create smokescreens, yet the very simple fact is the GOBP deathcult is (a) ignoring the wishes of the vast majority of Americans, (b) are responsible for the majority of our deficit, ratings downgrade and economic mess and (c) have no intention of cleaning up their mess. Instead, the GOBP deathcult continues to lick the boots of their `1% masters, while giving the finger to the rest of us 99%ers.

    November 21, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  25. Mark

    Honestly it is just sad. When it something that is this important and we can't get the people we elected to do what we need in order to get it straightened out. Government like people can not spend what they don't have. I consider myself to be a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. It is criminal that we have allowed congress to buy our votes with our money. It gets a little trickier as none us want Congress to buy our votes with our money we want them to do it with someone else's money. That is ridiculous. I am embarrassed to be called an American with this type of leadership.

    November 21, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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