More say they would blame Republicans in Congress than President Obama if debt ceiling talks break down and the government defaults on its debt, according to a new poll by the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center.

But the issue carries evident political risks for both sides.

Some 42 percent of all Americans say the GOP would be mainly responsible for a resulting default, which the administration says would happen Aug. 2 if the debt ceiling is not raised. Fewer, 33 percent, say the Obama administration would be primarily to blame. About one in eight say both sides would be at fault.

Among political independents, it’s a more even score: 36 percent say they would hold the GOP responsible, and a similar 34 percent say the administration. Fully 17 percent of independents say they would blame both sides for failure to deal.

Q: As you may know, unless Congress and the president can agree to raise the federal debt limit soon, the government will not be able to borrow more money to fund its operations and pay its debts. If the limit is not raised, who do you think would mainly be responsible for this – (the Obama administration) or (the Republicans in Congress)? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?


A Post-Pew survey from May showed broad public concerns with both raising and not raising the debt limit, with widespread worries about the potential economic effects and possibly more deficit spending.

The telephone poll was conducted June 16 to 19, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. The results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.