CNN Poll: Partisan divides explain super committee failure
November 21st, 2011
11:56 AM ET
6 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. Lynda/Minnesota

    67% approve increasing taxes on the wealthy and big business. 12% approve increasing taxes on the middle class and poor. And anti taxing lobbyist Grover Norquist has now become the GOPTer "scapegoat" because the Republican controlled House members have become so beholden to their corporate lobbyists that they are unwilling to do what is right for America? Give me a break, GOPTers. Greed and corruption has so consumed the Grand Old Party that I doubt anything short of voting all of them out of office will get America back on track again - no matter who becomes President.

    November 21, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. BOB OH

    Civil war it the only solution.

    November 21, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. d

    So you mean if we could get rid of Dems and Reps the country would run smooth like the vast majority of Americans want? SHOCKING!!!

    November 21, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Zo Raster

    Any one who pledged to Grover Norquist should be fired by the voters.

    Try pledging allegiance tot he American people, you wankers!

    November 21, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  5. Walter

    I think most Republicans don't care whether it's the top 1% or the bottom 99% paying more in taxes, they are opposed to anyone paying more taxes. Unfortunately, I have seen no evidence to support the idea that we will eliminate a 15 trillion dollar debt simply by cutting our way to success. On the other hand, Democrats are completely opposed to any changes in Social Security and Medicare – despite Obama's own Fiscal Commission saying unless changes are made, by 2025 every single dollar the government takes in will go solely towards entitlement and paying off the debt. Neither party will acknowledge both of these facts; and as this poll shows, neither will the electorate. To put it simply – We are doomed.

    November 21, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. Krshna

    America will continue to decline. These guys are true patriots. They work for the People(Corporations) while the people are screwed.

    November 21, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. DN

    Remove logic and reason and you get a 21st century Republican. A Republican's comment on the administration is, to borrow from 'Animal House': "They can't do that to our country. Only WE can do that to our country!"

    Screw up the nation for 8 years, stone wall the President from the opposing party from trying to fix things (GOP has broken record for filibustering in Congress), and claim your the only ones who can save the nation! You are a joke.

    November 21, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. HenryClay

    Tax the wealthiest more? yep! Cut entitlement spending? yep! Lower corporate tax rates for US – based companies?yep! Institute an import tariff for goods that create unemployment? yep! Get entrenched politicians to show courage? Forgettaboutit! Haven't you realized that they all want to be reelected based on their abilities to cater to their parties' primary lobbiests? Independents must become the new majority in Washington in January 2013.

    November 21, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. GOP = Greed Over People

    The "kick the can down the road" committee kicked the can down the road due to the GOP pledges to Goober Norquist for no new taxes?

    Wow, I never saw that one coming.

    November 21, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    BOB OH

    Civil war it the only solution.
    Something like that should not even be said tongue-in-cheek.

    November 21, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Beresponsible

    This is not only reckless but treason. When you chose your party and politics over your country you are committing treason. The reason either side cannot budge is because they are bought out by special interest groups or lobbyists. Corruption should be punishable with a good hanging like they use to a century ago. I guess they do not realize that main street will no longer tolerate partisan failures anymore.

    November 21, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Sharpetongue

    Norquist and the Tea Party combined have managed to cripple the GOP's ability to compromise. Politicians are supposed to find middle ground. That's not possible with the Tea Party. Mainstream GOP are afraid of losing their support so they are paralyzed. The party of NO.

    November 21, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Barb

    What is the problem???? Cut federal spending and raise taxes on the richest. Everyone in Washington needs to go.

    November 21, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Brad

    @Matthew Kilburn

    The answer is:
    Over the last 30 years, the pre-tax income of the top 1% has increased 275% while it's increased only 18% for the poorest 20%, and even only 65% for the top 20%. During this same time period, the top marginal tax rate has fallen from 80% to 35% while capital gains taxes have fallen by almost half. It's easy to see that in the last 3 decades the richest 1% has had by far the biggest % increase in pre-tax income but also the biggest fall in their tax burden on a percent basis. The definition of "fair share" is subjective and always up for debate, but the facts show that the rich are paying very low rates by historical standards.

    November 21, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Travis

    Lewis Black said it best...

    Republican: I've got a really BAD idea!!!

    Democrat: And I know how to make it even WORSE!!!

    November 21, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. Rick

    Even tax increases won't stop the train wreck called Spending. Out of control. It will not be a good ending folks.

    November 21, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Charlotte Shinn

    I live on Social Security only. Our super commitee make way more than me. Perhaps they should forfeit pay for every day that they cannot get together, (dems, repubs, inds.) with a solution. This is my life they are messing up. Perhaps the loss of pay would get them to think non-partisan instead of the next election. In general, I think the republicans try to down President Obama instead of thinking what is good for the country.

    November 21, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    up the revolution

    November 21, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Sean

    Prove that none of them will survive elections, because it's us! We're the problem, but we like to blame others...

    November 21, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. markmango

    Nearly seven in ten independent voters don't have a problem with raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations

    = WIN

    Obama 2012

    November 21, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. Rick McDaniel


    The committee failed solely, on the fact the Democrats would accept nothing unless they got their millionaire's tax. Since that wasn't going to happen, nothing happened. That's the bottom line.

    November 21, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. Flex

    Divide the country in two: The north for republicans and the South for Democrats, give it a ten year deadline, whoever does better at the end with the economy gets the majority vote – case closed.

    November 21, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. Howard

    obama has gone out of his way to use class warfare, to polarize the people of this country ... of course Americans are split.

    November 21, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. 2bits`

    What's nuts is that neither side has the answer to the problem. The answer is a 3rd party which demands tax increases for businesses and super rich and benefit cutting (medicare, medicaid, social security, and national health insurance) and especially government wages. Only from a two-sided approach can the deficits be brought under control–cut benefits and raise taxes on businesses who are reaping excessive trillion dollar profits at the peoples expense.

    November 21, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. p

    So split the county up red and blue. The south and midwest will be a country and the West/northwest and northeast can be another country. If you don't like the politics in your area move to the other country.

    November 21, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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