The Democrats are in a strong position with the public as they engage in negotiations to find a solution to the fiscal cliff crisis. Barack Obama’s first post-reelection job approval rating has risen to 55%, up five points since July and 11 points since the start of the year. Obama’s job rating is markedly higher than George W. Bush’s first job measure (48%) after he won reelection in 2004.
When it comes to the reaching an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, 55% say Obama is making a serious effort to work with Republicans. But just 32% say Republican leaders are making a serious effort to work with Obama on a deficit deal.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 5-9 among 1,503 adults, finds that the current problems for the GOP run deep. Just 25% approve of the way Republican leaders in Congress are doing their jobs, while 40% approve of Democratic leaders’ job performance. And the GOP’s lead negotiator, House Speaker John Boehner, is viewed more unfavorably (40%) than favorably (28%).
By a 53% to 33% margin, the public sees the Republican Party, rather than the Democratic Party, as “more extreme in its positions.” Democrats, on the other hand, are seen as “more willing to work with leaders from the other party” by roughly two-to-one (53% vs. 27%).
Americans have long felt that deficit reduction should be achieved with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, and as the debate intensifies, this consensus is only growing. Nearly three-quarters (74%) say the best way to reduce the deficit is by both cutting major programs and increasing taxes, up from 69% in September and just 60% in July 2011 when the debate focused on raising the debt ceiling. Just 11% say the focus should mostly be on program cuts and 7% say the focus should be mostly on tax increases.