Monday, November 26, 2012

Poll: Americans more interested in 'fiscal cliff' than Benghazi, Israel or Petraeus
By Justin Sink - 11/19/12 06:06 PM ET
Despite dramatic international news dominating the headlines across the globe, Americans are watching the negotiations to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" more closely than any other news story, according to a new poll from Pew Research.

A full third of Americans say they are "very closely" watching updates on the debate over the looming spending cuts and tax increases, outpacing other big news stories. Some 28 percent say they are closely following the investigation into the terrorist attack on American outposts in Benghazi, while 27 percent say they are paying close attention to the brewing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And in what could be a surprise considering the considerable play the story has been getting in tabloids and on cable news, only 22 percent say they are closely following the events surrounding the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, who resigned earlier this month after an FBI investigation revealed he had been having an extramarital affair.

Democrats and Republicans are equally likely to be closely following the fiscal cliff debate, although Republicans are more likely to be attuned to the three international stories. Republicans who say they are following the story "very closely" outpace Democrats on the Petraeus investigation 28 to 21 percent and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 34 to 23 percent.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans are twice as likely to be following the Benghazi investigation, which has received heavy coverage in the conservative press. Some 42 percent of Republicans say they have been following that story closely, versus just 21 percent of Democrats.

Independents, meanwhile, are most likely to be attuned to the fiscal cliff debate (31 percent) and the conflict in the Middle East (28 percent).

Despite few Americans admitting that they have paid close attention to the brewing Petraeus scandal, some three in 10 say that the news is of "great importance to the nation," while a full 62 percent say it is of at least some importance.

That number is higher than the 52 percent of Americans who said former President Clinton's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky was of at least some importance in February of 1998, shortly after the relationship was revealed.

Americans also seemed generally surprised by the Petraeus affair, with that adjective narrowly beating out "disappointed" and "shocked" when respondents were asked for their initial reaction.

Poll: Americans believe Obama will reach across aisle, skeptical of House GOP
By Justin Sink - 11/19/12 04:36 PM ET

A new poll released Monday showed that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe President Obama will make a sincere effort to reach across the aisle as lawmakers work to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff."

But while 65 percent of Americans think the president is willing to compromise, less than half — 48 percent — say the same about Republicans in Congress, according to the Gallup survey. Meanwhile, some 57 percent of Americans say that Democrats in the legislature will make a sincere effort for compromise.

Democrats are especially inclined to believe their leaders will make a sincere effort to reach across the aisle, with a full 98 percent of those surveyed saying they thought the president would look to strike a compromise. Nearly nine in 10 Democrats also said that members of their party in Congress would look to work in a bipartisan manner, although only 38 percent said the same of Republicans.
Voters who self-identify as Republicans were more skeptical, with just 27 percent saying either Obama or Democrats would work toward bipartisan solutions. But, they say, 64 percent of Republicans in Congress would do so.

Independent respondents more closely mirror the national trend, with 65 percent saying the president would work toward compromise, half saying the same of congressional Democrats and 43 percent saying congressional Republicans would do so.

Respondents were split on who they believed should compromise more in the upcoming negotiations on the looming fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and tax increases. Some 68 percent said both sides should compromise equally, while just 14 percent of respondents said the House GOP should compromise the most. An identical 14 percent said the same of Obama and the Senate Democrats.

The polls actually represent an across-the-board improvement from November 2010, just after Republicans retook the House of Representatives. Then, only 64 percent said Obama would sincerely look to reach across the aisle, with 51 percent believing Democrats would do the same. Only 43 percent said the same of Republicans in 2010.

"Americans are less sure about bipartisan impulses in Washington today than they were four years ago, after Obama's victory in the 2008 election," said Gallup's Lydia Saad in a statement. "However, overall, Americans are slightly more confident now that leaders will seek mutually acceptable solutions than they were after the November 2010 elections establishing the divided government that continues today."

Americans are far more disenchanted with their government than they were just after Obama was first elected. Then, eight in 10 respondents said Obama would reach across the aisle, while 62 percent said the same of congressional Republicans — better than congressional Democrats, of whom only 59 percent said they saw as compromising.

Polls: Voters support raising taxes, say jobs more important than debt
By Justin Sink - 11/19/12 12:41 PM ET

A series of polls conducted in recent days could give new ammunition to the Obama administration as it negotiates the "fiscal cliff," with Americans indicating they generally support raising taxes and are focused more on economic stability and job growth than immediately balancing the budget.

According to a poll released Friday by Rasmussen, 57 percent of voters say they agree with the president's proposal to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 per year. Thirty-five percent of those surveyed say they oppose that move.

Meanwhile, a new poll of New Hampshire by Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling showed that nearly half of all voters there — 49 percent — say President Obama's mandate following his reelection is to focus on jobs. That's compared to only 22 percent of voters who say the president's mandate involved reducing the debt.

In the same survey, only 36 percent of respondents said that the president was tasked with striking a compromise with congressional Republicans. Voters were more likely to say that the president's mandate was to stand up for middle-class families, even if that meant a confrontation over the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts.
"The mandate of 2012 was clear. Tax the rich, use that money to invest in jobs, and do not cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for regular people," said Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green in a statement. "Americans want President Obama to fight for them if the Republicans stand in the way, not settle for a bad compromise."

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Republicans would be open to additional revenue from the wealthiest taxpayers — but only in exchange for entitlement reforms.

"I can say on the part of my members that we fully understand that you can't save the country until you have entitlement programs that fit the demographics of the changing America and the coming years and we're prepared to put revenue on the table, provided we fix the real problem, even though most of my members I think without exception believe we're in the dilemma we're in not because we tax too little but because we spend too much," McConnell said after a meeting at the White House with the president and other top congressional leaders.

The prospect of that fight also has Americans concerned that the country could plunge over the fiscal cliff. More than half — 51 percent — of respondents to a Pew survey released last week say they do not think the two sides will be able to come to an agreement.

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