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

    Yes, this country is divided right down the middle on just about everything. I've ask my reps in Congress not to give an inch to any liberal congressman. If it causes a problem, so be it.

    November 21, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Ryan

    So we need to elect people from the 39% of republicans and 42% of democrats. Problem Solved.

    November 21, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. anonymoooose

    dems and repubs are two heads of the same beast- owned by the banks. abolish them all. expose the lie.

    November 21, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. Cambob

    Considering how bad the job market is, of course these millionaires don't want to risk losing their jobs by making tough decisions.

    November 21, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. rcc82

    The majority of Americans support a balanced approach, including budget cuts and increased taxes on the wealthy, who have actually increased their net worth during the last few years. The politicians in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, are beholden to extremists and special interests, and they are willing to destroy this country to achieve their own reelection rather than accept a reasonable compromise. We are all interconnected, financially and socially, and the sooner we recognize it, the better. No one, not even the wealthy, will escape the disastrous consequences of these selfish actions by a few people out for personal gain. We must demand that our politicians take responsibility and reach a reasonable compromise immediately. And that is just the start of what needs to be done. The budget crisis does not exist in a vacuum – all of our problems are interrelated and stem from our own selfish nature. We must learn to work together, or everything will fall apart.

    November 21, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. MightyMo

    How can anyone disagree with a flat tax! It is clearly the only viable solution to this problem. Do away with all deductions, period. Everyone pays the same percentage on all income, no matter where it comes from. Take the money as it is earned, no more filing tax returns. Do essentially the same for business, one flat tax, but much lower, maybe in the 5 – 10% range. I don't have proof, but I've heard that if the above was put in place our taxes would be about 15% of income. I think that is pretty darn good, and certainly very. very fair.

    November 21, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Peter

    The two party system too closely resembes a two team sporting event. Fanboys pick their team and they are to win at any cost. The opposing team is to be beaten. This mindset-in both Washington and among too many in the population– is destroying us.

    November 21, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Joe

    When will Republicans learn that lowering taxes for the 1% ultra wealthy and large corporations will not create more jobs and improve the economy. The only thing that will create more jobs is an increase in demand for US products and services. But with the middle class shrinking and tightening their financial belts, and the increasing % of people no longer in the middle class and now members of the poor and unemployed. There will be less and less demand for American products and business.
    Thus these companies will not be hiring regardless of the tax breaks you want to give them. Get it?
    Big and small business' alike will not hire new employees because their tax burden has been lowered. They will only hire new employees if the demand for their product or service increases.
    Once America learns this basic rule of Economics, we will continue to run our country into the ground and get further into debt.

    November 21, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. quitsa

    How dare the the people in DC toy with the American public and allow themselves to be held hostage by Grover Norquist. Norquist is the most powerful lobbyist in DC and there is not a single person in DC with the guts to stand up to him. Pathetic is all I can say.

    November 21, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Soni

    Thank Obama for that. Obama is the no. 1 conflicter and chief. When we get him out of office we will find unity once again

    November 21, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. RETRIEVER2

    Got to love the idea that we are actually trying to convince people around the world to adopt the american model of democracy......seriously......

    November 21, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Barry G.

    Dear Fair is Fair,

    Most of us share your frustration, but if we vote out those currently in office, the next batch will be just as corrupt and worthless as the ones now in office. The political process is corrupt.

    What do you think they do, when the freshman Congress members arrive, after each election. They sit them down and tell them how things work and how to play the game. They also tell them that if they don’t play the game, all of their bills will be sent to committee (where they will remain), and they will be out of office soon.

    In other words the entire political process has become corrupted, and only the Congress can change this—and they have no intention of changing this. They love the money too much.

    November 21, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. Zaggs

    If Obama followed the guideline of his own commission, with the Republicans giving him 400 billion in revenue, he should have cut 1.2 trillion in spending bringing in a total savings of 1.6 trillion. Or if Obama hadn't torpedoed on an earlier deal with Boehner he would have gotten 800 billion in revenue increase which should have been followed by 2.4 trillion in spending cuts for 3.2 trillion in savings. Simpson-Boyles said 3 dollars cut for every 1 dollar raised.

    November 21, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Pedro

    America wants higher taxes on the rich. Listen now or get voted out later. Simple as that.

    November 21, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Steve

    A free democracy requires compromise.

    November 21, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Zenichi-Maro

    Revolution. Now.

    This congress is out of touch with the will of the people; this congress is actually refusing to act on the will of the people. Clear majorities support the balanced approach of tax (revenue) increases and spending cuts. A radical band of traitors, however, has decided that their oath to the Consitution is less important than their pledge to an anti-tax crusader and fellow traitor, Mr. Norquist. The democrats are no better.

    Revolution. Now. This is OUR country, and it's time we take it back from the corporate politicians.

    November 21, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Scott

    Vote 3rd Party in 2012. The Senate. The House. The Oval Office

    November 21, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. Jennifer

    It's fascinating to me to see both sides screaming the other side is evil.

    What neither side gets is...they aren't the entire country. They aren't even a majority in and of themselves. They have no right to shove policies down the throats of Americans who don't agree with them.

    November 21, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. laff

    Both parties are as equally corrupt. Any citizen who is partisan is an idiot, regardless of what side you're on.

    November 21, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. Rozelle

    We should just issue everybody red or blue t-shirts and have a great big football game to settle the issue.

    November 21, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Marty

    "Nothing happens in government without compromise." Ben Franklin
    count on nothing happening with this current group of elected officials on any issue

    November 21, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. jim

    Leddy
    "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. The US is on a downward projectory and until we have someone that can makes some hard choices don't expect in improvements in the domestic economy or jobs."

    Umm, what? No agreement automatically triggers spending cuts across the board.

    November 21, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. Michael

    What we need is new term limits. One 5 year term for President. Two three year terms for Congress. 15 year lobby ban on any elected official or government worker. If you are in the House or Senate and run for President, you step down.

    November 21, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. egb

    67% in favor of taxing higher-income individuals and businesses sounds like a landslide to me, and not a deep partisan rift. If members of Congress follow an irresponsible doctrinaire 'no raise in taxes' approach, then they don't deserve to be in office, and we can give up conquering the deficit. Spending cuts alone won't do it.

    November 21, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. jim

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

    It was that way before he took office.

    November 21, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
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