CNN Poll: Strong partisan divide on debt ceiling
July 21st, 2011
11:47 AM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Strong partisan divide on debt ceiling

Washington (CNN) - Americans are hungry for a solution to the debt ceiling debate but there is a big partisan divide that isn't going to make a solution easy to achieve, according to a new national survey.

And a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicates that while Democrats and independent voters are open to a number of different approaches, Republicans draw the line at tax increases, and many of them oppose raising the nation's debt ceiling under any circumstances.

"That may create a problem for the Republican party, because most Americans think that GOP has been acting irresponsibly in the debt ceiling talks and they will blame congressional Republicans, not President Barack Obama, if no action is taken on the debt ceiling by August 2," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey's Thursday release comes as time is running out to reach an agreement on a deficit reduction deal which increase the government's borrowing limit, so it can continue to pay its bills after August 2. If Congress fails to raise the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by that date, Americans could face rising interest rates, a declining dollar and increasingly jittery financial markets, among other problems.

Eighteen percent of people questioned say that if the debt ceiling is not raised, it would cause a crisis, with another 43 percent saying it would create major problems for the country. Three in ten say a failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause only minor problems and six percent say no problems would occur.

As expected, there's a partisan divide.

"Democrats and independents predict that not raising the debt ceiling will create a crisis or major problems in the U.S." adds Holland. "Roughly half of all Republicans think that will create only minor problems or no problems at all."

The survey is the sixth poll released over the past week to indicate that a solid majority of the public want any agreement to raise the debt ceiling to include both spending cuts and tax increases. Sixty-four percent of people questioned in the CNN/ORC survey say they want a budget plan with both spending cuts and tax hikes for businesses and higher-income Americans.

Again, there's a partisan divide, with 83 percent of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of independents but just 37 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of self described tea party movement supports saying they prefer a combined approach. A majority of Republicans and tea party supporters prefer a plan that only includes spending cuts.

"Democrats and independents don't see anything wrong with raising the debt ceiling as long as Congress takes action to reduce the amount of money the government owes, and some of them are willing to raise the debt ceiling even without any action by Congress at all," says Holland.

"Republicans won't even go that far - a majority of GOPers oppose raising the debt ceiling even if Congress passes a budget plan."

According to the poll, Democrats and independents favor a plan that would cut $2 to $4 trillion and increase some taxes - something similar to the "Gang of Six' proposal by a bipartisan group of senators, or the "grand bargain" that the president has been advocating in recent weeks. Republicans oppose that approach.

Republicans like the "cut, cap, and balance" approach to the debt ceiling, as do Democrats and independents. Most Americans support a balanced budget amendment, and most, but not as many, think an amendment is necessary to get federal spending under control. A balanced budget amendment passed the House earlier this week, but a vote in the Senate is expected to fail.

But the poll indicates that few like the fallback plan to raise the debt ceiling. The proposal, first advocated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, would give the president the ability to raise the debt ceiling essentially on his own.

The poll indicates the Republican party is likely to lose the "blame game" if it comes to that. Most Americans think Obama has acted responsibly in the debt ceiling discussions so far, but nearly two-thirds say the Republicans in Congress have not acted responsibly. Fifty-one percent say they would blame the GOP if the debt ceiling is not raised; only three in ten would blame the president.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on July 18-20, with 1,009 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 story.

Filed under: CNN poll • Congress • Debt • Deficit • Polls
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    I thought 80% agreed with Obama....?

    July 21, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit wrote:
    Well...we'll see about that...Norquist blinked.
    Yes! He did. Now we need to remind the American people that Republicans had promised the Bush Tax Cuts were temporary. And, we need to teach Republicans that when you retore the original price at the end of a sale, that's not a price increase. It's called the end of the sale, which is essentially what Norquist said.

    July 21, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. bipar08

    avery one of the politicians need's to be fired, we have a broken gov.

    July 21, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. California Conservative

    After what the democrats did for two years GRIDLOCK is welcomed.

    Don't bother commenting libs. Your words are as worthless as you are.

    July 21, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. gtsmoker

    Independents did not vote with the Democrats in November. I think this poll is very suspect.

    July 21, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. No more Obama

    No more Obama, please. The guy is a likable DISASTER. His policies and leadership have made a tough situation WORSE. Those that defend him do it with blinders. Why defend a man that has put his ideology ahead of the country. VOTE HIM OUT,

    July 21, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. John B

    So let me get this straight, corporate profits are at an all time high and taxes on the wealthy are at their lowest since the 1960's and yet no new jobs are being created? So the republican solution is to pass our nations debt onto Social Security, Medicaid, and education but not raise a penny on corporate lets? Aren't the wall street people the ones who got up in this mess in the first place?

    July 21, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. California Conservative

    Tea party is irelevant, Tea party is responsible.

    Which is it libs? you're contradictions are as insane as you are.

    July 21, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. CJ

    The republicans are hypocritical. They spent money like it was going out of style when Bush was in office and they controlled Congress and now they pretent to be so fiscally responsible. Phonies! They want to protect their rich companies and the rich Americans over the middle class. These groups have the republicans bought and paid for in their pockets. This is clearly class warfare. They fight Obama because he represents the middle class and lower class.

    July 21, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. DTQ

    Why aren't all the usual suspects going down to DC this weekend to plead for their boy president crackhead not to stop their nut checks next month?if it was Bush that's what they'd be doing!

    July 21, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. 'merica ruined by rethugs

    John, PA

    We don't have a TAX problem, We have a SPENDING problem. We are being "Weinered" by Bernanke, Obama and all of the Democrats in Congress.

    Let’s include one specific Tax Increase.
    If you are a registered Democrat, vote Democratic or donate any money to a Democrat, you pay an additional 15% tax on all income, capital gains, money you take in.
    This will get the 51% that pay no taxes to have some skin in the game and share the sacrifice. This will get Warren Buffett, Teresa Heinz and the other bleeding heart liberals to pay their far share.
    Comments like this validate that the GOP side isn't the brightest bunch. Where was the righteous indignation when your boy W ran it up like a drunken sailor? Spend on wars (off the books)? Spend on unnecessary tax cuts for the rich boys? Sure sounds good to the uninformed, but no way we can allow for revenue increases to help our nation and citizens. Here's to hoping you and all of your friends and family losing your jobs and getting blasted by some sort of national disaster so you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Bet you call yourself a "good Christian" too. We have a Rethuglican problem and a deliberately obtuse problem.

    July 21, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Mike in Wylie

    it is no surprise.
    The number of people in the 'Working Class' and the 'Dependency Class' are about even now.

    July 21, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. CJ

    Yeah, let's vote another rich person into office (Romney). He'll clearly represent the middle class interests in this country, lol. Another rich republican to protect the rich. But when the rich get too greedy and ignore the needs of the rest of the country you get the French Revolution......and we are not too far from bringing out the guillotine!!!

    July 21, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Tim

    The idea of raising taxes on the wealthy alone is just a ploy. I believe the best way to increase revenue is to eliminate write offs all together. No matter how much you raise the tax rate on higher income families and businesses they will find a way to get out of it. Of course this would eliminate countless accounting and IRS jobs. I believe that's the only option for increasing revenue.

    July 21, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Marcia

    Our government is as corrupt and greedy as any other. Throw the whole bunch out and start over. more money for Obama's family vacations...including granny!

    July 21, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. mike

    I don't give a "hoot and holler"how they do it, but raising taxes is NOT the way to do it. There are a lot of people out there on fixed incomes that can't afford it. Also us government civilians (and a 30 year veteran) who are now unable to get cost of living raises or step increases in order to keep up with "the Jones'es can't afford more taxes either. Obama just needs to go away!

    July 21, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Matt

    Reading these comments proves that liberal 'blogger' have no clue what is going on. Can you really claim that Obama has been a good president? Really? Sure it is fun to demonize the GOP, Fox News and talk radio... but, the true is that the government is too big and too inefficient. And the democrats want to make it bigger (larger debt ceiling with no real spending cuts means bigger government). Think thing through, kids. (Oh, and I don't listen to talk radio or watch Fox News).

    We can't change the past, so it is time to make the tough decisions, now. Cut spending and govern within a realistic budget.

    July 21, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. boocat

    The GOP is only interested in defeating Obama. The don't give a damn about the people in this country except for the wealthiest. Anyone who votes for these money grubbing freaks ought to have their head examined.

    July 21, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  19. watto3502

    Eventhough the Dems seem to be winning the argument on the debt ceiling,they've failed themselves by not messaging the good things done for this country, over the past two and half year, through a united and consistent effort. And sadly, the watch-dogs (journalists) of society have failed the american people. Could it be they are lazy, have been bought, or plaque with partisan politics; or better still, the american people have become selective of news feed?

    July 21, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. William

    The national debt is $45,000/person. Maybe bills should go out to each family. The bill should itemized according the which changes in revenue and spending since Regan took office account for the total(our national debt was pretty flat for the 30 years prior to Regan taking office). The not so surprising result is that tax cuts and two unpaid for wars account for more than 75% of the total. Un-paid for tax cuts and Un-paid for wars account for our current situation.

    July 21, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. vicki willis

    Stupid Congress. Let's show the whole bunch the way out of Washington. No dems, no repubs and forget the tea party. How about just the American people!

    July 21, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. jay

    In a few weeks from now we all get to feel what its like to live in a third world country where we get to beg for aid from the world. Scre the budget talks we should cut the trillions in aid to everyone and worry about the usa for once and take care of the people struggling here everyday to make ends meet!!

    July 21, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. giallo1

    I really think the GOP would prefer that we were all living in 1100s England. Let feudalism ring!

    July 21, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. The Other Michael in Houston

    Grimm, my good my friend you hit the nail on the button. Let's see,all of their salaries that are paid to even Congress person, the President and every government employee are paid by us the tax payers, all of the free healthcare dished out to House, Senate and White House official is paid by us, the tax payer, heck you can go as far as the state and local government all of the things they get to enjoy at our expense and I don't hear not one of them saying "i believe in cutting spending so much that from now on I will not except my free healthcare etc". Now I am not saying that Congress and the White House should work for free, but until I hear one of you cut your own spending, then you have nothing meaningful to say.

    July 21, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. Time for another change

    "Let's face facts. Republicans like to cut Education in order to dumb down the population enough so that they can get re-elected."

    Hardly a fact. Standards got tougher for schools and then liberals began filing suit against them. Yeah, I think you have this backwards.

    July 21, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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