Poll: No winners out of fiscal cliff talks
View of different players largely split down party lines
A new poll shows neither Republicans nor Democrats in Congress weathered the fiscal cliff showdown well, and Americans' views on the agreement are sharply divided along political lines.
The Gallup survey found only 34% of Americans approved of congressional Democrats' handling of the cliff negotiations. Congressional Republicans scored even lower, with 25% approval. Two thirds - 67% - disapproved of Capitol Hill Republicans' handling of the negotiations and 55% disapproved of how Democrats handled the talks.
After weeks of posturing and behind-the-scenes dealings involving President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a deal was eventually struck between Vice President Joe Biden and McConnell. As the new year began, legally triggering the spending cuts and tax increases collectively known as the fiscal cliff, the deal lumbered through Congress and the crisis was averted - temporarily.
Boehner, the poll showed, registered the highest disapproval for his handling of the situation. But his numbers were within close distance (within the sampling error) of several other key players.
Obama emerged from the talks with a split perception of his role: 48% disapproved of his handling and 46% approved. Fewer respondents registered an uncertain opinion of his role than of any other player.
One half of survey respondents disapproved of how Boehner handled the talks, while 31% approved and 18% had no opinion. He was initially a central player in the talks, negotiating with Obama and offering the first concession from Republicans on tax rates. After pulling his plan B proposal from play, talks then focused on McConnell and Reid.
Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, scored a 48% disapproval and 27% approval rating. McConnell's score was nearly identical, with 46% disapproving and 28% approving.
The final deal was negotiated between McConnell and Biden, who scored a 42% disapproval and 40% approval rating.
The deal itself was met with mixed reaction overall: 45% disapproved and 43% approved. The split emerged along partisan lines, with 65% of Republicans disapproving and 67% of Democrats approving. Independents were divided 46% against and 39% in support.
The poll did not ask whether or not individuals were relieved or not that the cliff was behind them. For those who enjoy the Capitol Hill showdowns, more remain this year, including upcoming scheduled spending cuts (pushed back by the fiscal cliff deal), the debt ceiling, and funding the government. The current government funding measure expires in late March.
The poll was conducted on January 3 by telephone among 1,026 adults and had a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
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