The Political Consequences Of The Debt Debate: 51% Say It Will Be Important To Their Vote

July 29, 2011, 5:00 PM GMT+0

Half the voters in the latest Economist/YouGov poll say a candidate’s position on raising the debt ceiling will be important to their vote, with Republicans more likely than Democrats to say the issue will matter. 

Republicans have always been more concerned than Democrats about the budget deficit, and in this poll they also are more likely than Democrats to say that a candidate’s position on this issue will affect their vote. 59% of Republicans, compared with 46% of Democrats, call it an important factor.

Republicans are also less willing to compromise. Almost seven in ten Democrats and six in ten Independents say that they would prefer to have their representative in Congress compromise in order to get things done, rather than risk not accomplishing something by sticking to principles. But 68% of Republicans would rather their representative sticks to his or her principles.

The Democrats are seen as marginally more willing than Republicans to resolve differences in order to reach agreement on raising the debt ceiling. 28% say the Democrats are more willing to resolve those differences; 19% say Republicans are. But 21% say neither party is willing. 

In fact, asked directly whether the parties in Congress are more interested in providing constructive alternatives or more interested in opposing the other party, neither party is viewed as being constructive. But more think of Democrats than Republicans that way.

However, leaders of both Congressional parties fare poorly with Americans. More Americans have unfavorable than favorable opinions of Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Republican leaders John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell. Overall Congressional approval ratings remain low — just 13% approve of how Congress is handling its job. 

President Barack Obama, while still struggling with his approval rating, fares better. Americans are divided about both him and Vice President Joe Biden when it comes to having favorable or unfavorable opinions about them. In this week’s poll, his overall approval rating is 42%, in the same narrow range it has been for months. 

But on his handling of the budget deficit, his approval rating is even lower. 34% approve of that, while 56% disapprove. 

Full datasets for Economist/YouGov polls can be found here.

Photo source: Press Association

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