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. tomasina

    Why, why, why cant the Congress STOP spending money we don't have ?????

    November 21, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Lizzy

    The people are not split! The media just wants everyone to think that! A majority of the people want the same thing (End the wars, jail all the greedy bankers, bring jobs back to America!) I am so sick of our state controlled media. You people at CNN/FOX news/MSNBC are NOT journalists. You're hacks and write exactly what you are told. Good bye freedom. Hello communist China.

    November 21, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. PG

    You can look at a broad sampling of the responses on here and understand our gov't is a direct reflection of our culture. We are an "NFL nation". We pick sides, and anything suspect our 'team' does is easily rationalized, and any good the 'opposition' does is easily vilified. We are passionate, but neither pragmatic nor articulate. This was decades (if not centuries) in the making, and it shall not change quickly or at least without a heavy, heavy cost. "In a democracy you get the government you deserve and you deserve the government you get."

    November 21, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. TonyInNYC

    So the impasse means that our legislators in Washington actually do represent us.

    November 21, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Ken

    By the time the $1.2 TRILLION was to have any effect, we'll be $20 TRILLION in debt anyway. If you double taxes on the "rich", (those making over $250K per year) and enact all the cuts the GOP wants, we're STILL in really BIG trouble.
    We're quibling over what swimsuit to wear, while we're facing a Tsunami.

    November 21, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Time2Leave

    This is pathetic. Democrats are unwilling to accept spending cuts.... Republicans really aren't willing to cut spending either. Does the public realize if we took the budget back about ten years we'd almost have a balanced budget???? Why is it so scarey to cut the budget back to what it was ten years ago? Somebody tell me what exists today, that didn't exist ten years ago that if we got rid of we couldn't survive without???? Please help me understand the logic here. Does anybody actually have a logically reason why spending can't be taken back to what it was ten years ago?

    November 21, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Lee

    Seems like a no brainer to me. Pass something like Cut,Cap, and Balance that Republicans want and roll back the Bush tax cuts to the Clinton era levels that the Dems want. Both sides sacrific and America wins. I dont want to hear about the labor pains, show me the baby.

    November 21, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. Will

    If the Bush tax cuts are recinded on the wealthy it would provide about
    800 Billion dollars. It is agreed we need to cut 4 Trillion dollars. Taxing
    the higher income earners at higher marginal rates will not provide enough money. The
    democrats know this, but it's good politics to not talk about the numbers.
    To fix the deficit: recind the Bush tax cuts on all income brackets, and
    consider raising capital gains and dividend taxes, which would hit
    the wealthier harder. The really wealthy don't get there from wages, it
    from dividends and capital gains. Once again, politicians know this,
    but think the public won't get it so all they talk about is the marginal
    tax rate on income. That's the income side. Republicans, some taxes
    do need to be raised. The other part is to
    reduce spending on the big items: medicare and social security/
    disability. These last items were off the table for the congressional
    commitee. BUT, these are the biggest items in addtion to defense.
    How could they not have been part of the discussion? Because
    the Democrats won't consider it.

    November 21, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  9. Bill

    For those pointing fingers at the GOP or the Dems, maybe you should read the article. Neither side wants to compromise, and their supporters don't want them to compromise. IT's not just congress that is in gridlock, it's the entire country

    November 21, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. Mike

    I would be all for increasing taxes on the wealthy if the Dems would come up with an EXACT plan showing how much in taxes, where it would improve the economy, and then show us the results. The results need to be verifiable by independent sources and if the Dems don't deliver they need to acknowledge their error and then let the Republicans try their method.
    If the Dems are so certain that raising taxes on the wealth and corporations would fix our problems then show us how, let it be measured, and admit failure when it doesn't work.
    I'd go so far as to say that they opt out of running a candidate in the next Presidential election if their policies fail.
    I've never seen so stubborn a group of people than what I see right now with the Democrats and Republicans.
    So go ahead and keep voting for your party and keep contributing to the decline in America.
    You, the voter, are to blame.

    November 21, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. Mikey

    @Rick McDaniel
    Incorrect.
    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.
    ******************************************
    Teh democrats wanted a balanced approach that included taxes AND spending cuts, which is what 70% of Americans want. The GOP wants to solve our problems totally on the backs of the middle class and the poor.

    Compromise is not simply agreeing with your position. Evidence your statement "that wasn't going to happen... That's the bottom line." For you and your friends it's "my way or the hiway." I rest my case.

    November 21, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. cronewinter

    The only way to solve the problems is to focus on them. The problems are not moral issues ( gay rights, abortion, motto's). The issues are unemployment,how to keep the nation afloat financially. Those are the issues. The rest of the stuff should never be on a budget bill. They can be dealt with later.

    November 21, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. Bj

    For those pointing fingers at the GOP or the Dems, maybe you should read the article. Neither side wants to compromise, and their supporters don't want them to compromise. IT's not just congress that is in gridlock, it's the entire country

    November 21, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Ken

    The fact that Democratic supporters do not want programs cut shows how simplistic and low in intelligence these people are. All the problems in Europe have shown you simply can't keep raising taxes and fees to cover all the growth of these programs. SImple math (beyond their abilities) will show that even if you raise taxes and fees the deficit will continue to ballon and grow out of control. Programs must be reigned in and controlled and limited to match the growth of GDP. Otherwise we will become Greece. Of course on the other side of the coin, the Republican supporters have also shown a lack of understanding of the basics. Taxes paid to the goverenment as a percentage of GDP are at their lowest level in 30 years. We know that income inequality keeps raising and that is bad for the economy. So we DO have room to change taxes, bring in more from the people at the top, and help reduce the debt levels faster than mere cuts can achieve! While I can understand the desire to keep Uncle Sam out of your pockets, we need to work to reduce the debt. Debt increases will be far more damaging to wealth retention than any tax increases. So to stop the train from barrelling down the tracks into Greek and Italian style collapses, some increases (or reform if it makes you happy) is required. It's that simple!

    November 21, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Max in NY

    Our country is dumb as all hell I'm sorry. The right is extremely good at putting doubt into the minds of the willfully ignorant/uninformed.

    2 prime examples:
    a) Taxes- Taxes are only planned to be "raised" (letting the bush tax cuts expire) on the wealthy (people making 250k+ per year)...yet they're able to convince people that the average person's taxes will increase. So they freak
    b) Climate change- unanimous conclusion by the IPCC that climate change has been impacted by man. Yet somehow they put seeds of doubt in people's minds that its a conspiracy, and there is dissent within the scientific community

    I can only hope that the voters actually spend 30min before the elections and catch up on the political news of the past few years to become informed...doesn't take a heck of a lot more than that.

    November 21, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. J W N in SC

    Grover Norquist is an enemy of the country, and those who signed his pledge aid and abet him.....NON PATRIOTS ALL!

    November 21, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. S

    The United States are not united at all. They broke up the Soviet Union and things are now much better for the PEOPLE....we should do the same here. Break up the US by regions based predominate cultural norms...New England and New York seems a like a natural....NH Repubs can move to Mississippi. California, Oregon, & Washington seems like another natural group. Texas can be its own country....it's already its own unique culture. Dividing the US into 4 or 5 separate nations will be better for everyone in the US....and especially for the world....they would love to see an end to US occupation and imperialism. The Australians are about to learn that the hard way with welcoming our expanded military on their land......

    We don't need a United States and we certainly don't need Washington DC and that unbelievably expensive military.

    November 21, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. nathan

    Im a Mod Dem, Ive voted for Republicans a few times in my life. But this new breed of GOP, these Tea partiers etc, I truly HATE them. First time in 52 years Ive ever felt HATE.

    November 21, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. NoBama

    All those who believe this is the Republicans fault are drunk on propaganda. Face it, it takes two to tango. Blaming the republicans is as old as the hills. It is a farce.
    "We are now 5 days away from fundamentally changing America” This is how it's done. Obama style.
    Drink another cup of Kool Aid libs. This blaming may work but we still will lose America. Thanks for the Obama.

    November 21, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. Jules

    Why wouldn't the super committee fail, it is made up of the same idiots that can't get anything done on anything. This i I am a member of the middle class – let all the Bush tax cuts expire and stabilize our economy. Those tax cuts were not meant top be permanent and they hurt us in the Bush administration and they are still hurting us. I agree there needs to be cuts, but going on like this is insane. I would rather have a stable 401k to help me through my senior years than something that swings around wildly.

    November 21, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. Barry G.

    There's part of the problem. Americans are split and are unwilling to compromise, just like the members of Congress.

    Unless both sides are willing to negotiate and compromise, things will never change.

    Perhaps it's time to amend the entire political process, which has become hopelessly corrupted by lobbyists and greedy Congress members.

    November 21, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. Lolo

    The top 1% have shipped the jobs overseas for a big tax break too. This is why they do not want to increase their taxes. They pay on the front-end in America and then get back double when they do business overseas with hefty loopholes to boot. Shame on these republicans and tea partiers for telling lies and keeping their pockets full. The democrats do it to, but the republicans are in it up to their ears. People need to do their homework. Just vote the congress out and start anew. This has nothing to do with the president. They can not even produce a bill to get to the president's desk to be approved.

    November 21, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. ThinkerDC

    We need higher taxes for the wealthy and less spending on non-infrastructure programs to turn this country around.

    High salaries, great benefits, and a lack of term limits = no motivation except reelection. You are paid to put aside your own personal biases and self-interests in order to make choices that benefit this country.

    The GOP wants less taxes, but let's face it – most GOP supporters will never make over $1 million annually and won't be affected. However, they still blindly follow the will of the top % of earners. Keep in mind that those high earners that make over $1 million annually would never run their businesses with revenues (tax dollars) exceeding expenses (expenditures) for too long, but that is exactly how they run the US govt.

    But the Dems need to stop coddling poor adults that made bad life choices. Instead of universal healthcare, invest in infrastructure that will create jobs, drive American expertise that we can export, and grow the economy (e.g. broadband, renewable energy, etc).

    When your leaders act like spoiled, self-interested children who can't work together for the benefit of the nation as a whole, it is time to replace those leaders. Remember every member (from both sides) of this panel on election day.

    November 21, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. Keith in Austin

    Simple rationale:
    Socialism vs. Capitalism. America loses the battle right now but will lose the WAR if cancerous Socialism is allowed to thrive another 4 years next November! This is a fact based in History and undeniable truth!

    November 21, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. Tea Person NOT

    Hey P.....the last time that was done we had a civil war. Is that what you really want ?

    November 21, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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