What the fiscal cliff deal cost John Boehner (and what he gained)

January 8, 2013

A slim majority of Republican voters disapprove of how House Speaker John Boehner handled the negotiations over the so-called "fiscal cliff," according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Fully 52 percent of Republican voters disapprove of the way Boehner handled the negotiations, a 15-percentage point jump from December when the talks were ongoing. Among the most conservative Republican and independent voters, disapproval of Boehner spiked from 36 to 61 percent. As they were last month, Democrats are overwhelmingly supportive of Obama’s performance in the negotiations.

Overall, 44 percent of all registered voters say they approve of the deal, struck on New Year’s day, with about as many -- 42 percent -- disapproving. More than one in eight voters express no opinion on the subject.

Head-to-head, Obama fares better than Boehner in the poll, just as he did when the negotiations were ongoing at the beginning of December. In the new survey, conducted after the House followed up a Senate vote by passing the measure, 53 percent of voters say they approve of the way Obama handled the matter, while 40 percent disapprove. The overall tally is clearly negative for Boehner’s performance: 30 percent approval and 56 percent disapproval.

Interestingly, both Obama and Boehner improved their cross-party appeal after the bargain, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Just 8 percent of Republican voters approved of the way Obama was handling negotiations in a December Post-ABC survey, while in the new poll roughly one in four (23 percent) said he had done a good job. Democrats jumped from 14 to 27 percent in approving of Boehner’s handling of the issue.

But the two sides remain deeply divided: 67 percent of Democratic voters approve of the overall deal; 68 percent of Republican voters disapprove. Sentiment is particularly strong on the extremes, with 71 percent of liberal Democrats in favor and 74 percent of conservative Republicans opposed.

Full breakdowns available here (among all adults, not limited to registered voters).

Fixbits:

The United States may start defaulting on its debts as soon as Feb. 15 -- a half month sooner than first expected.

In 2004, Chuck Hagel suggested the country should reinstate the military draft.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he misspoke when he said Superstorm Sandy was worse than Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) called him an "idiot."

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), an emerging critic of Boehner who was recently stripped of his committee assignments, is fundraising off his vote against the speaker.

Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad looks at potential primaries for Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D) after Abercrombie's appointment of his then-lieutenant governor surprised many.

Former congresswoman and 2010 Senate candidate Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) says she's done with elective politics.

Rep. Greg Walden (D-Ore.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is proposing a law against minting a trillion-dollar coin.

Former NRCC executive director Guy Harrison joins the GOP consulting firm OnMessage as a partner.

Must-reads:

"The GOP Division Over the Fiscal Cliff Is Not Going Away" -- Nate Cohn, The New Republic

"Are Democratic Insiders Missing the Boat in Massachusetts as Special Election Draws Closer?" -- Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call

"Tea Party Re-Flexes Its Muscle" -- Janie Lorber, Roll Call

"Obama’s failure to nominate women draws criticism" -- David Nakamura, Washington Post

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Sean Sullivan · January 7, 2013