The Washington Post

Poll Watchers: Pew Global poll, blame for default, unemployment, mood of the country

— World superpower: U.S. or China? New doubts have emerged regarding the status of the United States as the world’s leading superpower: The Pew Global Attitudes Project surveyed 22 nations and finds majorities or pluralities in 10 believe “China either will replace or already has replaced the United States as the world’s leading superpower.” China’s emergence is seen especially in the Western European countries surveyed, where at least six of 10 see America as being outpaced by China. Despite the views of China’s superpower status, the United States is generally viewed more favorably than China across the surveyed countries. The wide ranging poll also covers global opinions of President Obama, ratings of other countries, world leaders and institutions.

-- Spending cuts vs. tax increases – The vast majority of Americans want a mixed approach to dealing with the federal budget deficit, according to new Gallup data. Few people pick only spending cuts or only tax increases, with most, 69 percent, seeing a necessary combination of both. Republicans clearly lean toward spending cuts, but not exclusively. Democrats are most apt to want an equal distribution of cuts and taxes. Independents favor spending cuts.

-- Blame for debt ceiling – Congressional Republicans appear particularly exposed if efforts to raise the debt ceiling fall through, perhaps bolstering fears of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that a default could “destroy” the GOP brand. A new Quinnipiac poll of registered voters finds that by 48 to 34 percent, more people would hold congressional Republicans responsible than Obama. There are natural partisan differences, but independents are apt to blame Republicans, 49 to 33 percent. These new results are similar to findings from a Post-Pew poll in mid-June in which slightly more said they would blame Republicans than Obama, 42 to 33 percent. By 67 to 25 percent, voters in the Quinnipiac poll believe that an agreement to raise the debt ceiling should include spending cuts wrapped up with “increased taxes for the wealthy and corporations.” That might provide a pressure point for Republican leaders insisting on no tax increases in budget negotiations. Even Republicans in the poll split 48 to 43 percent on only cuts versus cuts and tax increases.

-- Making cuts: the deficit, unemployment and spending – Also in the new Quinnipiac poll, more than six in 10 voters see reducing unemployment as more important than dealing with the deficit right now. But, if the tradeoff is with federal spending in general, then the choice is less clear: 49 percent prioritize unemployment, while 43 percent federal spending cuts. Republicans pick reducing government spending over unemployment by 2 to 1, but Democrats hold the opposite view – picking unemployment reduction by 2 to 1. On both versions of the question, independents side with Democrats with a preference toward jobs..

-- Mood of the country – At just 16 percent, satisfaction with the way thing are going in the country have hit a two-year low in Gallup polling, down 10 points in two months. Assessments of the country’s direction are bad – but not quite as dire – in the new Reuters/Ipsos poll: by 63 to 31 percent people say the country is on the wrong track rather than the right direction.  

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Peyton M. Craighill is polling manager for the Washington Post. Peyton reports and conducts national and regional news polls for the Washington Post, with a focus on politics, elections and other social and economic issues.


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