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. biased1

    I was a Soviet Studies student during the Cold War. "Party member" was a bad word in communist countries – it meant somebody who had sold out to the communist political machine. I have recently removed my Democrat party affiliation – I can no longer be associated in any way with a party guilty of criminal wars on the scale of what we've done in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the billion-dollars-a-week Homeland Security robbery. I think most Democ/Repub party members retain their membership only out of a sense of loyalty, the way you're loyal to a local sports team. That seems perfectly OK at the local and state level, but party loyalty at the national level is criminal, not just stupid.

    November 21, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Dave

    What really irratates me is I haven't seen one story at CNN explaining to the masses that even if you raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires to 100% of their income it will only reduce the deficit by 18% (not DEBT the DEFICIT) so this tax the rich mantra will not solve the problem!!! Somewhere some how spending has to be reduced.

    November 21, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. Dave

    The country isn't as divided on the problem as it is about how to solve it: corporate control of Congress.

    We agree that the 1% has gone too far!

    November 21, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. mike

    Another CNN Poll, another whack at republicans. You can believe CNN about as much far as you can throw a 600 pound gorilla. Not at all.

    November 21, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. jboHDrider

    LEave it to CNN to post a misleading headline. It should have read "almost 70% of populace thinks that we need to raise taxes"...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. What are they trying to do, force us to beleive that it is splt evenly with the GOP/Teaparty? Why would they do that? ANyone with any sense knows we need to cut spending AND raise taxes! Especially given that the current tax structure is killing the middle class!

    November 21, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. danial54

    Liberal and conservative....by any other names, they are still the same inside. I'm independent and in this economy we can't afford to be liberal. We need to be especially conservative. In previous war times the public did without some things in order to pay for war. What politician thinks this isn't the case now?
    We are so deep now that the only way out is to suffer without big government spending. Cut that budget and see what the stock market does and also watch other countries in Europe also follow.

    November 21, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. NYC1972

    Simple solution, VOTE everyone out, Dem, GOP, whatever, they are not doing their jobs, PERIOD, so they must be fired, need to run our government the way it was intended – once they get the point then we start taking their precious benefits away. After we tell these politicians we are not standing up for this garbage then we start electing those who don't see the average hard working citizens as a piggy bank

    November 21, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. td

    we get the government we deserve.

    November 21, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. MacDav

    comrade obama failed the American worker again by supporting increased debt spending and illegal aliens and the welfare state.Continue to vote out the communisys bye obama

    November 21, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. RoboBobo

    supposedly we are going to use spending to boost the economy and magically cut spending too.

    And since we want to 'stimulate' the economy through spending, and we also want to calm wall street with debt management – just letting things fall apart is frankly the middle road at this point.

    obscene, I won't argue with you – but we weren't going to get anything better. At least nobody is lowering taxes, or (at least this year) proposing massive new spending programs or a new war.

    November 21, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. Lee

    Government does not work, stop letting it grow! I grew up poor blue collar and made my way on my own into a white collar business owner. I did not need help from white government. It is a terrible message that people can't make it without government taking something from people who produce and giving to them for essentially free.

    November 21, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. trying2save

    Go back to basics. Captialism means if you made wrong choices as a bank, you should be euthanised. Not give trillions. Top management of banks that led these banks into the real estate mess, must be held accountable. Banks like WELLS FARGO etc...Privatised profits and socialized loss policies of banks cannot be tolerated and must not be tolerated.
    This is what has led to resentment against banks and it will stay until there is a just closure and people are held accountable.

    November 21, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. John

    Democrats ruining America since 2007 ! No GOP hands involved. The biggest deficit since 1945 of ANY PRESIDENT in 2009 AND 2010 AND NOW 2011.... That is bigger than ANY ANY ANY president.

    Blame you can believe in !
    Change you can step in !

    November 21, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. stevie

    Of course people don,t mind raising taxes on other people. Thats waht Dems do best. But it will further tank the obama economy. They just don`t have a clue.

    November 21, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. jim

    PA_outofwork
    "Today another first; another failure is added to the list:

    FAILURE: today 11-21-2011, Americas debt has exceeded the country’s GDP.

    Here what it takes to fix the debt in our country:
    Repealing every law passed by the last Democratic-controlled congress!
    Repealing every regulation put into place by the Obama administration!
    The one specific Tax Increase:
    If you are a registered Democrat, vote Democratic or donate any money to a Democrat, that’s for Corporation, Union or person, you pay an additional 15% tax on all income, capital gains, money you take in."

    Nice rant. I see you prefer a one party system. What do they call that again?

    BTW, if you are out of work, it must be because you are ignorant and lazy.

    November 21, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. Jason

    There's hyper partisanship in Congress and its going to destroy this country? No sh!t CNN.

    November 21, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. js

    So we can call this the Divided States of America . The Democrats or the Republicans do not care about this country or We the People , its evident in the Greed ,and Corruption and abuse of their power . How long have congress after congress, decaded after decaded known that we the baby boomers would be getting ready to retire . And chose not to do anything about it ,Instead focusing on hearing after hearing about HGH in Major League baseball. and other non issues . What a waste of tax payer dollars, then telling America the poor and Middle class are the problem . While Pallet after Pallett of money we n t to the Middle East with no oversight .Oh right its your fault you made poor choices america . Iam sure not all the wealthy earned their wealthy it might have been handed to them with no sacrifice on their part .Hypocrites that they are .

    November 21, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. GOP Hate America

    dont care what the polls say. conservatives are to blame. period.

    November 21, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. Kennk

    Earth to GOP – The American people are on to you and they're sick, sick, sick, of it. After the 2012 election you GOPers are going to be on the street with the OWS crowd. See how you like it when the tables are turned.

    November 21, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. Lee

    Businesses do not pay taxes! I know the simple minded view businesses as a some miser owned concern where they are putting all their money into a bank account, which a tax will liberate and give to the needy public. Any business that is taxed more will simply raise their product costs to cover it. So anyone who buys the product of that business can assume they are the taxpayers. The businesses themselves are just tax collectors.

    November 21, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. Boomer in Mo

    In MO, the typical welfare recipient is a young woman with one or two children born out of wedlock. The second most common recipient of welfare in this state is an elderly widow living in a nursing home and who has exhausted all of her funds pay $3,000-$5,000 or more per month for care. How to you propose cutting expenses for those two kinds of welfare recipients. Kill all of them? Yes we need to cut medicare, welfare, etc. but don't think there are no consequences. And Howard, the French Revolution was class warfare. I propose you read a little European history. My fear is all of this mess will disintegrate into true class warfare because the Pols of every political stripe in Washington are being paid to do nothing by big business, big money and the wealthy.

    November 21, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Laurie

    Let the Bush tax cuts expire! They were never paid for (by cutting spending) while he was president – even though the country was in 2 wars. Once the tax rates are back to where they were during Clinton years – that is a bug chunk of the deficit taken care of. Then, we can talk about cutting spending. So it they just do nothing, and let Bush cuts expire, it might be better for US anyway.

    November 21, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    The Norquist Republican minority and the Republican candidates for president, in general, have a vision of America that does not include the present infrastructure of society – no hospitals, no libraries, no schools, no power grid, no roads and bridges, no mail service, no EPA, no FDA, no Energy Dept, etc.. In their vision, "Government" will not be a "presence" in American life.

    The majority of Americans have a different vision of America. America is leaner and spends less money, but the social infrastructure of America stays in tact; and, in the short run, we spend what we have to spend to get the American people back to work.

    The Norquist Republicans will not voluntarily relinquish their strangle hold. They are radicals. They are focused and committed and absolutely determned. The electorate must vote them out of office. To make matters more grave still, they must do so despite the exhaustive efforts of the Norquist Republicans disenfranchise ordinary voters. But listen up – as of today, and perhaps for a little while longer, only ordinary people can cast a ballot.

    Please do one more thing: Everytime an ordinary person loses the right to cast his or her ballot next November, make a note – jot down the name of the legislator(s) who took that vote away or made it harder to cast or insisted on adding that aditional requirement (picture I.D., etc.). Keep your list with you, and if you see that name on your ballot, vote against that person.

    November 21, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. Ben

    What this poll says to me is that a committee of Americans made up from the group that was polled would have about a 40% chance of reaching some sort of compromise, not that they'd be ideologically deadlocked like the worthless idiots that are actually on the panel.

    November 21, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. RapidOne

    There are people who think logically and with common sense, and then there are those who are the mindless slaves to the Republican party.

    November 21, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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