Most Americans appear poised to blame Republicans, not President Obama, if negotiators fail to act in time to avert a “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases and spending cuts slated for January, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll.
The poll finds little confidence that leaders in Washington will reach a deal before the Dec. 31 deadline, and the level of pessimism remains largely unchanged since a similar poll three weeks ago. By nearly 2 to 1, more respondents said Republicans in Congress would be to blame if there is no deal, a lopsided assessment little changed from the earlier poll.
Also relatively unchanged over the past three weeks is the wide concern about the potential economic fallout if there is no agreement. There remains a broad expectation that a lack of agreement will deliver a “major effect” on the economy.
What has changed since the previous poll is that more people are paying attention to the policy battle — two-thirds are following the debate closely — but that has not led to a better-informed public. Only 28 percent say they understand “very well” the consequences of missing the deadline, about the same as the 26 percent saying so in the prior survey.