Majority of U.S. to blame both sides for ‘fiscal cliff’ failure: Poll

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

If Washington lawmakers fail to reach a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a majority of Americans will blame Democrats and Republicans equally, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal survey.

Fifty-six percent of adults surveyed Dec. 6-9 said Democrats, including President Barack Obama, and Republicans would be equally to blame if no deal is made to avoid the fiscal cliff—the automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to go into effect on Jan. 1. Twenty-four percent said Republicans will be more to blame and 19 percent pointed the finger at Democrats.

Those results differ from the response to a similar question posed one week earlier by The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center that suggested the public is more likely to blame Republicans in Congress for negotiating failures.

The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll and the Post/Pew poll both showed that Americans still say they trust Obama more than congressional Republicans to reach a deal.

Thirty-eight percent of adults surveyed by NBC/WSJ said they trusted the president more to handle the fiscal cliff situation, while 19 percent said they trust House Speaker John Boehner and congressional Republicans more to handle negotiations.

When compared with past NBC/WSJ surveys, the latest poll shows that approval ratings for the Republican Party have declined since the election. The GOP's favorability rating in the new poll was 30 percent and its unfavorability stood at 45 percent. That's down from NBC/WSJ's October survey in which the GOP received a 36 percent favorable and 43 percent unfavorable rating.

Mitt Romney's favorability also declined, according to the poll, from 43 percent favorable/44 percent unfavorable in October to 35 percent favorable/44 percent unfavorable in the Dec. 6-9 survey.

The poll showed Americans want compromise. Two-thirds of respondents said they were willing to accept tax increases or cuts in federal government programs in order to reach a deal.

The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.