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.
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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.