Republicans losing blame game on fiscal cliff

December 4, 2012

A majority of Americans say that if the country goes over the fiscal cliff on Dec. 31, congressional Republicans should bear the brunt of the blame, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll, the latest sign that the GOP faces a perilous path on the issue between now and the end of the year.

While 53 percent of those surveyed say the GOP would (and should) lose the fiscal cliff blame game, just 27 percent say President Obama would be deserving of more of the blame. Roughly one in 10 (12 percent) volunteer that both sides would be equally to blame.

Those numbers are largely unchanged from a Post-Pew survey conducted three weeks ago and suggest that for all of the back and forth in Washington on the fiscal cliff, there has been little movement in public perception. The numbers also explain why Republicans privately fret about the political dangers of going over the cliff, while Democrats are more sanguine about such a prospect

The blame question is all the more relevant because a near majority -- 49 percent -- of those polled expect the Dec. 31 deadline to pass without a deal, while 40 percent expect a deal to be cut. Perhaps indicative of which side believes it has the upper hand in the negotiations, 55 percent of self-identified Democrats believe there will be a deal, while just 22 percent of Republicans feel the same. Thirty-seven percent of independents expect a deal; 52 percent do not.

There also appears to be a disconnect between a general sense that going over the cliff would be bad for the country and an acknowledgement of what it would mean for peoples' lives.

Roughly two-thirds of all Americans say that not meeting the Dec. 31 deadline would have "major" consequences for the U.S. economy, but just 43 percent believe that it would have a "major effect" on their personal finances -- despite the fact that taxes would go up on the vast majority of the population on Jan. 1 if no deal can be reached.


Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll

Republicans are well aware of where the public seems ready to put the blame if no deal on the cliff is reached. It's why House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) offered a counterproposal Monday to the one President Obama laid out last week. Simply letting stalemate stand for the next 10 to 14 days is unacceptable to Republicans who know they have to do everything they can to avoid the cliff -- and the blame for it that seems likely headed their way.

Ailes tried to enlist Petraeus for White House bid: The Washington Post's Bob Woodward reports that in the spring of 2011, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes relayed a message to Gen. David H. Petraeus, urging him to run for president if he wasn't offered the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The messenger, Fox News national security analyst Kathleen T. McFarland, discussed with Petraeus the possibility of Ailes resigning to run his bid and News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch bankrolling it, but Petraeus wasn't interested in running. Ailes said Monday the message he sent to Petraeus "was more of a joke." Petraeus at the time was commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He resigned last month as CIA director.

Bloomberg urged Clinton to consider succeeding him: New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) reportedly called Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton some months ago to encourage her to think about entering the 2013 race to succeed him as mayor of the nation's largest city. 

Clinton made clear she wasn't interested, but the outreach underscores her popularity and the extent to which she is in demand, politically. The call's revelation could also complicate relations between Bloomberg and presumptive candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D), for whom the mayor has privately signaled support. 

Smith, Wallingford considering bids to replace Emerson: Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith and state Sen.-elect Wayne Wallingford (R) each released statements Monday saying they would consider running to replace Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R), who announced that she will resign next February. Smith is Emerson's former chief of staff. Wallingford is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. The 8th District party central committee will choose nominees for next year's special election in the heavily Republican district. 

Fixbits:

Obama's team is up with a campaign-style video making the case against tax cuts for the wealthy.

The Supreme Court has punted until Friday when it comes to taking up a gay marriage case.

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's whereabouts are shrouded in secrecy

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will keep a national profile despite stepping down as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. O'Malley is considered a potential presidential contender in 2016.

Mitt Romney had some of the top-searched Google terms in 2012, but not in a good way.

Former House majority leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.) is parting ways with the tea party group FreedomWorks, and it doesn't sound amicable.

Former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen (D) says he is not planning to challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander (R). 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is feeding Democrats' efforts to weaken filibuster rules.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) has no intention of running hard to the right to save his job. 

Smart Politics notes, somewhat astoundingly, that states vote against their governor's party for president more often than they vote for it.

Harvard's Institute of Politics has posted audio files of last week's election post-mortem, featuring top aides to the presidential candidates.

Businessman Martin Sepulveda (R) and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel Wendy Rogers (R) are considering challenging Rep.-elect Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) in 2014.

Obama is considering nominating Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour to be the next ambassador to the U.K. or France. 

Newt Gingrich will appear on "Parks and Recreation."

Must-reads:

"Boehner, House GOP leaders offer ‘fiscal cliff’ counterproposal" -- Lori Montgomery, Washington Post

"Criticized as Weak in Past Talks, Obama Takes Harder Line" -- Peter Baker, New York Times 

"Obama Plans for Climate Deal as Fiscal Cliff Talks Rage" -- Kim Chipman, Bloomberg Businessweek

"Republican Doomsday Plan: Cave on Taxes, Vote ‘Present’" -- Jonathan Karl, ABC News

"Pro-immigration conservative activists plan their strategy" -- Peter Wallsten, Washington Post

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Sean Sullivan · December 3, 2012