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Poll: Little confidence in congressional leaders to deal with debt issue, but Obama has edge

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Barely two weeks before the government’s spending authority hits a wall, few Americans say they have great faith in any of the major players in the debt debate snarling Washington, according to a new poll from the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center.

A third or fewer Americans express a “great deal” or even a “fair amount” of confidence in any of the five top congressional leaders at the center of negotiations aimed at avoiding a historic default: Republicans Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Eric Cantor and Democrats Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

President Obama fares better, although not particularly well: 48 percent of those polled have at least a fair amount of confidence in the president, but about as many, 49 percent, have “not too much” or “none at all.” More say they have none than say they have a lot (32 to 24 percent).

Independents are particularly sparing in praise: fully 50 percent of independents lack faith in all three Democrats tested in the poll when it comes to the debt talks. That figure rises to 59 percent for lack of confidence in the three Republicans.

The poll also reveals dissension in the GOP ranks, with Republicans broadly critical of their party’s congressional leaders. Nearly a third of self-described Republicans say they don’t have even some confidence in McConnell (Ky.), Boehner (Ohio) or Cantor (Va.).

Taken together, ratings of the three GOP leaders are significantly higher among those who say they agree with the tea party than among those who don’t.

Among all Republicans, Boehner emerges as the most credible voice. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans in the poll express at least some confidence in him. That outpaces the figures for both McConnell (43 percent) and Cantor (44 percent).

On the Democratic side, fewer lack confidence across the board, but that’s largely because of the president’s strong showing among fellow Democrats. Overall, about six in 10 adults have little or no confidence in Reid (Nev.) and Pelosi (Calif.), who both have sizable negatives even among Democrats (41 percent little or no confidence for Reid; 36 percent for Pelosi).

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