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. Tim

    Once again Washington has failed American people.Cannot agree on a reduction in spending....that is ridiculous. We have a spending problem, that is why the deficit is exploding. Stop paying your cronies make important decisions for the better of this country. Politics is a priority over what is best for this country. Greece here we come.

    November 21, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. Albert

    Do we have any on hope on our country, our government, a President who is lacking of leadership, and a congress which is do divided? They can not even find a common ground to cut 1.2 trillion OVER 10 YEARS. How are we gling to reduce our 15 trillion deficit? And the President is spending so much time on the road to preach his recovery job act and point the fingers for his re-elction? What a joke! They all should be resigned!

    November 21, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Don

    It's obviously the fault of [insert the name of one of the two major parties here], so everybody needs to vote [insert the name of the other party here] in 2012 so we can save the country from the ruin that [insert the party mentioned first here] would bring "as promised".

    (For those of you neither Republican nor Democrat, use "both major parties" in the first and third places and the party/group of your choice – how many of you said "Occupiers"? – in the second.)

    November 21, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. Tired Independent

    GOP = Go One Percent!

    November 21, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. snarks

    Obama destroyed America in under 3 years. He must be impeached. America must heal.

    November 21, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Tom

    This is not news....You're looking through the wrong end of the telescope! The elected legislators reflect the politcal divisions, not vice-versa! With the continuous enlaregelent of the Independent bloc, the Dems and Reps are melting down to their radical bases.

    November 21, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Me


    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 |

    They only call it class warfare when we fight back.

    November 21, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Former Republican, but never again!

    Fairness dictates that the millionaires should pay more before we even think of cutting social security or medicare. Just raise the rates on the rich to where they were before the Bush tax cuts.

    November 21, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Teddy

    All the crazy baselining will ultimately kill this country.

    November 21, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. validate

    look, the problem with congress is the corrupt influence of outsider "big money" groups who pay to get the pols elected....until that big money influence is removed, congress will never be able to act in the best interest of americans, it can only act in the best interests of the big money donors! thats really just common sense, and no honest person can disagree..

    there are 3 simple (not easy) steps to return integrity to congress :
    1) campaign funding reform – public financing ONLY
    2) term limits – NOBODY get more than 8 years in dc, no exceptions
    3) congressmen prohibited from working for lobbyists – MUST cut the corrupt ties

    well, thats about it. those 3 simple steps will enable congress to work for americans once again

    November 21, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. mike

    Don't we already know what both sides want?? Isn't that the point of the Super I Cant Get It Done Committee, to come to a resolution? Instead they still are bickering and too stubborn to produce results. I just don't understand how if i screw up even the smallest task at work, or said "sorry, i have failed to get the results" i will be reprimanded, but when politicians do it, it doesn't matter. What is the point of creating all of these stupid "Committees and Task Forces" all they do is cost taxpayers money with NOTHING in return. Talk about going through the motions. Why isn't the president holding these people accountable? Who exactly is in charge here? I think the word REVOLUTION is starting to become relevant.

    November 21, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. coltdefender45

    Watch how fast they can vote for a raise for themselves.

    November 21, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. Aerin

    I think the culture wars have gotten so bad that its starting to make sense to split the country. At least Texas can go and anybody who thinks like a conservaturd is welcome to go there and get lost.

    November 21, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. inobetter

    Every congressional leader, from both parties, (party and committee leaders), and Obama need to go in 2012. NO EXCEPTIONS! Clearly we no longer have any leadership in our governmnet, just demagogues who are more committed to pointing accusatory fingers and shouting "Yes, you did", and "No, I didn't" like 2-year olds, than they are in taking a rational stand for reducing government spending and eliminating tax giveaways via loopholes and Welfare and Medicare/Medicaid fraud that costs us billions we don't have.

    November 21, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Matthew

    "Matthew Kilburn
    The top 1% in this country make about 20% of the income, but pay almost 40% of the income taxes. How can you argue they don't pay their share?"
    Because you're comparing apples to oranges. The total personal income in the US in 2010 was $12,357,113,000,000 ( – data taken from Bureau of Economic Analysis – also note the figures provided are in the hundreds of dollars). Twenty percent of that (which is controlled by the top 1% of income earners) is $2,507,422,600,000. The total income tax collected in 2010 was $1,175,422,000,000. Forty percent of that is $470,168,800,000. So, if your claims are correct, then the top 1% made ~$2.5 trillion in 2010 yet paid only $470 billion in taxes, which comes out to be ~18% of their income paid as taxes, which is much lower than the 20-something percent I pay as a part of the 99%.

    November 21, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. PJONES


    "This was Obama's goal from the start so there would be no spending cuts. Democrats do not want any cuts even though Obama has increased spending 30% since taking office."

    Lets be fair here:

    From 2000 to 2008, under President Bush, Federal spending rose by $1.3 trillion, from $1.9 trillion a year to $3.2 trillion a year.

    From 2009 to 2011, meanwhile, under President Obama, federal spending has risen by $600 billion, from $3.2 trillion a year to $3.8 trillion a year. It has also now begun to decline.

    November 21, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Truth

    the bottom line is this. There is a huge financial collapse coming and who would you want in office? THe freedom loving Ron Paul who believes in the freedom of the individual or the authority figure that is obama and everyother NEOCON. I go with the freedom loving Ron Paul in 2012.

    November 21, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  18. TRouble

    Call me an optimist but I see this as success! At least some spending was cut. Gov't gridlock is good. Hopefully more and more and more cuts to come! Keep up the good work!

    November 21, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. Ross

    This ain't rocket science folks. Big disputes like (labor negotiations, etc.) this get resolved all of the time if someone from both sides take a leadership and adult role. There is no excuse for this child like behavior on both sides. Let's fire them all. Miserable.
    This is why I am an independent

    November 21, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. JoeBlowe

    So how is this news? There have pretty much always been two types of people: Producers and Thieves. Or to put if anyone way: Republicans and Democrats. One group is interesting in keeping the PEOPLE in charge, the other wants to put GOVERNMENT in charge. Government gets to be in charge by forcibly taking money away from those who earn it ... and giving it to those who don't. Personally, I don't think people who take money from the government should be allowed to vote. The founding fathers were exactly correct: If you let people vote to give themselves money that used to belong to someone else, they invariably will do so. At this time, apparently, 47% of the population are parasites on the other 53%. THIS is one of the things that needs to stop.

    November 21, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  21. Grand Oil Party

    Before the bush tax cuts, we were on our way to paying off the debt. How can anyone who is serious about debt reduction ignore this fact? Either you are for paying off the debt or you are not. I think we should keep the automatic cuts to military and nonmilitary spending and let the Bush tax cuts expire. We should also change the eligibility age for Social Security and medicare to 67. We should also mage a balanced budget amendment, but this time have it include a war funding measure – the next time some yahoo from Texas runs our country into a war, taxes must be raised to pay for it. Without that provision, a balanced budget amendment is just smoke and mirrors

    November 21, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  22. Todd C

    The GOP debt ceiling fight led directly to this point. The $500 billion in defense cuts are 100% on their heads.

    Meanwhile, blocking the spending cuts would amount to an explicit admittance of defeat by the GOP in last summer's debt ceiling battle.

    November 21, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  23. Mike

    Liberal morons all want to tax and spend, tax and spend. What goes on in the diseased mind of a liberal to think like that?

    November 21, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. TomFoolery

    But of course! Most Americans want to tax OTHER PEOPLE, and cut OTHER PEOPLES" benefits. A 10 year old would vote the same way, and the voters are no more mature, nor do they think problems through any more deeply.

    November 21, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. Kris Craig

    @p I think they tried something like that in the mid-1800's. Didn't work out too well.

    November 21, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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