“They need to get to a credible number on spending cuts,” Fratto said. “Once they get to a product to sell, it will be a challenge. But I think they will be able to convince people that voting for the debt ceiling was a beneficial exchange.”
For now, a wide swath of the public remains confused about the debt-limit debate, with nearly half — 48 percent — saying they don’t understand the consequences of congressional inaction. Half of those surveyed say they do have a good grasp of the consequences, however, and that knowledge appears to affect their opinion about whether Congress should act.
A new poll looks at public opinions associated with the debt ceiling.
May 23 (Bloomberg) — David Stockman, former budget director under President Reagan, talks about efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Among those who believe they are well-informed, 52 percent say they worry more about Congress raising the limit and permitting additional borrowing. By comparison, 37 percent worry more about the possibility of default. Those who consider themselves less well-informed are more evenly split, with 45 percent more worried about borrowing and 34 percent more concerned about default.
The partisan divides are even more dramatic. Republicans are more than twice as likely — 60 percent to 25 percent — to say their bigger fear is that raising the debt limit would lead to more spending. Democrats split 48 percent to 38 percent the other way, with default as their greater concern.
Independents — crucial to the reelection prospects of as many as a dozen Senate Democrats, as well as President Obama — tend to side with Republicans. Among independents, 49 percent say they worry more about additional debt, while 34 percent say their bigger fear is the risk of default.
“Republicans cannot support a debt-limit increase that does not have major spending cuts. The base won’t allow it,” said GOP pollster Glen Bolger, noting that independents wouldn’t like it, either. “The challenge for the House — and the Senate and the president, as well — is how do they come up with something where people think we’re taking a step forward rather than just two steps back.”
The Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll was conducted by conventional phones and cellphones from May 19 to 22 and included interviews with 1,004 adults. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Staff writer Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.