CNN Poll: Partisan divides explain super committee failure
November 21st, 2011
11:56 AM ET
2 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. Bill744

    When party leadership chose the committee members, I checked out their backgrounds. As I feared, the panelists were chosen for ideological purity, not for pragmatism. That means, the leaders valued staking out positions to appeal to their bases for the next election cycle rather than obtaining a solution. Well, here we are and I'm not surprised at the failure. The party leaders should resign their posts and their seats. But I doubt they have any concept of honor or duty. So sad.

    November 21, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. S.R.

    Why can't the G.O.P vote for more taxes on the rich? Is it because of Grover Norquist's pledge to never raise taxes that they all have to sign? What a bunch of stupidity!!! Who cares what this guy thinks? Do what is right for ALL of us not just the rich!!!

    November 21, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. rizzo

    @stevie: I'm a Communist who wants my taxes to be higher so more can be done for poor people, does that break your brain?

    Regardless the takeaway is that political theater gets nothing done, go figure...

    November 21, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. Sierra Lostboys

    This is what happens when politicans actually listen to the threats that if they compromise they will be out of a job at the next election.

    On both sides the elected officials are doing what they were sent to do. The sad thing is that each was sent to not bend but to make the other states elected official to bend. At the same time that elected official has THE EXACT SAME MARCHING ORDERS!!!

    Everyone is calling their congressman or woman and say DO NOT BEND !! DO NOT BEND!! MAKE OTHERS BEND!!

    So why the surprise that there is deadlock?

    November 21, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. CdnJIm

    Super Committee fails, the Koch brothers and their ilk win! SHould read the headlines. This kind of a stalemate in Congress is just what they were hoping for. While the GOP and the Dems are tied up in a civil war, the 1% will keep raking in the money and defying environmental laws and screwing the middle class.

    November 21, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. neverwas

    2010 income tax revenue

    Individuals 900 billion

    corporations 191 billion

    November 21, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Braun

    Maybe this is because Americans, much like our politicians, are uneducated. We need leaders who offer experience and knowledge to get us out of this quagmire

    November 21, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Dr. John

    Democrats don't just want to raise taxes on millionaires, they want to punish the upper middle class for working hard and sacrificing to get there. People making $200K and families making 250K are not the ultra wealthy. Getting to the upper middle class is the American Dream and many people go to school, have major loans and make all sorts of sacrifices to get there...then to be taxed heavily for wasteful, inefficient government spending. Focus on closing loopholes for millionaires and create jobs to increase revenue. The rate of spending, waste and redundancy (like another stupid committee working for months on this) is the major issue (and job creation).

    November 21, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. JWeed

    This survey proves one important point: 57% of liberals have no grasp of reality. How else do you explain 57% of dems against ANY spending cuts, when faced the the reality of national insolvency? Libs may use the same logic on cons wanting no tax increase; however, when 50% pay for ZERO, the other 50% pay for EVERYTHING, how much more would you ask of them? All of it? OK, I am sure SOME of you would say yes–all of it. But you are commies, and this is not Russia.

    November 21, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Frank

    The article uses the term "GOP Leadership." That is an oxymoron for sure!

    November 21, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  11. Eric

    Partisan politics and the people who perpetuate them are the problem. If you blindly follow the rancor of either party then you are part of the problem. Politicians identify with one party or the other because they have to be get into, and to stay, in office. People identify with a political party because they're too lazy to analyze a person or issue on a fact by fact basis. If you vote the party line, then you are only perpetuating the problem. Political parties should be abolished, and aspiring politicians should be made to convey their beliefs on a point by point basis. That way, we the people, would be forced to evaluate them on their merits and could not blindly judge them based upon an all encompassing label.

    November 21, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. John Patrick Grace

    Unless things change dramatically – such as we are nuked by Iran – it looks like the votes will fall at least 53 to 47 to re-elect President Obama, and there's a fair chance that the Dems will retake the House. It also looks like the Repubs may take the Senate, so "divided govt" would continue. Seven of ten independents seem to favor upping the tax bite on the super rich, and independents are the tie breakers. In the midst of all this the Repubs' crazy primary circus continues, and the candidate that seems to be winning the lion's share of the Republican electorate is a guy named "Nobody."
    John Patrick Grace
    Huntington, West Virginia

    November 21, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. John

    Meanwhile. Norquist and his organization doesn't pay any taxes because they are registered as a Non-Profit Organization. The truth about this megalomaniac will come out sooner or later. Nobody becomes this powerful and influential without ruthlessness in his wake.

    November 21, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Nick San Diegon

    He Mathew. The wealthy are NOT paying their fair share. Just look at the Marginal
    Tax Tables and see how their Tax % went down from 50% under Reagan to 35%, plus they've dropped the Income Tables to be taxed at that rate from $400,000 to $250,000
    Bottom line the rich got richer and the middle class got pushed into the higher tax level.
    Check it out. Go Google it.

    November 21, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. quacknduck

    My suggestion is to get the boys from Magnetar up there and create a SSI/medicare based toxic OCD and sell the low tranch interest to China and Russia.

    November 21, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. Kimo

    We are distilling down to the basic difference between liberals and conservatives. Liberals want to help everyone. Conservatives want to help themselves. It's a battle between our altruistic and selfish natures.

    November 21, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. RandomBrad

    I think we'd be a lot less split if our leaders were held accountable for what they tell us. A little truth might go a long way to bringing us back together.

    November 21, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    The sinking Ship of State, awash in a sea of red ink is full to the gunnels and we need to throw some of the excess weight overboard.

    Democrats want to throw over some of the TRILLIONS in excess weight of unspent wealth held onto by the Wealthy in the belief that this will calm and clear the seas. The wealthy "promise" that they will use that money to create jobs if, IF, IF we make it back to shore.

    Republicans want us to throw the children, elderly, infirmed and poor overboard because they love their money more.and because it will cost us ALL precious treasure to help them.

    Who are you in the boat and whom do you want to captain her?

    November 21, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Jsmith

    We don't have a fund raising problem, but we have a huge spending problem. Spending has gone through the roof for decades. Both parties have done it. Now we need a solution. The solution is, and can only be, massive reductions in spending. Failure to face this reality will destroy our economy.

    November 21, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. Jeff

    Why are Republicans so selfish? I just don't understand. Flush America down the toilet so the selfish Republicans can keep their selfish tax break.

    November 21, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. ajgorm

    They want every last crumb we have. Dont sell out our resources fight to keep them ...

    November 21, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. InsiteFX

    And the three ring circus continues...

    November 21, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. dowdotica

    bunch of fat slag white shirts,,,jealousy, a brother is in the white house

    November 21, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. us1776

    GOP = American Taliban

    .

    November 21, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. "He's Dead Jim."

    One important question: American jobs in the past 20 years...more demand for highly skilled, educated or is the demand more and more for people to fill gaps in the likes of Target and Walmart???

    November 21, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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