CBS poll shows Americans oppose debt-ceiling hike 2-1

posted at 9:30 am on April 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama had better hope his campaign communications team performs better than the one he has at the White House.  Despite several months of hysterical warnings about the impact of failing to raise the statutory debt ceiling, Americans oppose giving Washington an extension on their credit limit by more than 2-1 in the latest CBS poll.  Opposition doesn’t just come from “extremist” Tea Party members, either:

Despite Obama administration warnings that failing to do so would devastate the economy, a clear majority of Americans say they oppose raising the debt limit, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows.

Just 27 percent of Americans support raising the debt limit, while 63 percent oppose raising it.

Eighty-three percent of Republicans oppose raising the limit, along with 64 percent of independents and 48 percent of Democrats. Support for raising the debt limit is just 36 percent among Democrats, and only 14 percent among Republicans.

It wouldn’t be a CBS poll without looking at the sample and their weighting techniques — and this one’s a doozy.  Somehow, their pollster ended up with a raw sample that was almost half Republican, with 543 registered GOP voters in a sample of 1,116, while only 277 Democrats took part in the survey.  Pollsters correct those imbalances through weighting, which was necessary for a sample that had a raw D/R/I of 25/49/36.

So how did they weight it?  They ended up with a D/R/I of 33/25/41, almost as badly skewed as their raw sample.  They ended up pumping Democrats up by a third while cutting Republicans in half and giving independents a slight bump upward, leaving Democrats with an advantage among registered voters that they haven’t enjoyed in years.  Remember, Obama won 2008 election popular vote by seven points, with significant numbers of independents and some crossover Republican support as well.

With every two Democratic survey respondents getting three votes to a half-vote for every Republican, it’s somewhat surprising to see that Obama’s campaign on the debt limit hasn’t resonated better than we see here.  But it’s also depressingly unsurprising to see the same survey say they want to see the most unstable entitlement continue as is even while demanding that the government stop borrowing money to cover the cost.  That includes a dead heat among self-described Tea Party supporters:

According to the new poll, 61 percent of Americans think Medicare is currently worth the costs. As many as 78 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Independents say it is worth it, but just 45 percent of Republicans agree. Forty-four percent of Republicans say it’s not worth it. Among Tea Party supporters, 41 percent say the cost is worth it, while 46 percent say it’s not.

Overall, a majority of Americans, 76 percent, thinks government has the responsibility to provide health care coverage for the elderly, and 56 percent say the same for the poor. Once again, however, there are partisan differences.

Republicans, at 55 percent, are less likely than Democrats (88 percent) or independents (79 percent) to say the government has a responsibility to provide health coverage to the elderly. Forty percent of Republicans say that’s not the government’s responsibility. Tea Party supporters, meanwhile, are split — 47 percent say it’s the government’s responsibility, and 48 percent say it’s not.

The findings here could be more nuanced than they seem.  It’s entirely possible to believe that the federal government has the responsibility to provide for senior care and still back Paul Ryan’s plan for vouchers, for instance.  The government would still foot the bill for the insurance but end its management of care.  But to say that the current Medicare system is worth the costs is to either back tax hikes the like of which we have never seen in our lifetimes to cover the unfunded liabilities of the program, or to literally stop spending money on everything else but Medicare over a period of several decades if we don’t raise the borrowing limit.


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Too big to fail?

If the Nanny State fails…well, so what?

coldwarrior on April 22, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Jeez, even their manipulated numbers can’t make this cr@p look good for Obama. Better work on that messaging Champ.

MJZZZ on April 22, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Let’s dog-ear this poll for a later day: when someone polls beltway insiders with the same question….

apostic on April 22, 2011 at 9:40 AM

I’m getting tired of all these false option polls.

Americans are ridiculously disjointed when it comes to difficult choices. Don’t raise the debt ceiling, but keep my benefits coming. No changes to SS or Medicare, but no taxes to pay for them either. Tax the rich and focus on jobs, jobs, jobs at the same time. Regulate this, don’t regulate that. Protect the environment, why is gas so expensive.

Is it any surprise most politicians just opt to kick the can down the road?

BadgerHawk on April 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Then take your entitlement cuts, you pantywaists!

Vashta.Nerada on April 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Mutiny…
maybe this is what democracy looks like?

mjbrooks3 on April 22, 2011 at 9:45 AM

We are all extremists now.

NoFanofLibs on April 22, 2011 at 9:46 AM

If you privatize Medicare by giving each eligible American Senior Citizen a $15k voucher to purchase coverage in the private market, and allow markets to compete across state lines the problem would be solved. With a $15k voucher Seniors could afford dental and vision care as well.

Boot illegal aliens from Medicaid and all other aid programs in the US.

Drug test every single welfare/medicaid recipient every time they seek treatment. This will stop them from taking an ambulance to the emergency room for a bad case of the sniffles.

Think outside the Obamabot box and there are solutions staring us straight in the face.

Key West Reader on April 22, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Hillary is challenging Barrack!! Article a FR, she announced this am.

tessa on April 22, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Our country has more idiots than I thought.

Notorious GOP on April 22, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Fore!

Bishop on April 22, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Cripe

cmsinaz on April 22, 2011 at 9:53 AM

2:1 ? Only? it is better odss than obummercare, green light to ramming speed.

anikol on April 22, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Soon, very soon, the federal credit card is going to get chopped up.

Then the fun really begins.

ajacksonian on April 22, 2011 at 9:56 AM

My wife and I have this same battle over our credit card limit. She wants to raise our limit when we max out but I say no and Holy Cow Armageddon has not yet happened. Can our government do the same? Stay tuned.

Herb on April 22, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Has anyone put forward a concrete plan for not spending so much we hit the debit ceiling? It would be a good talking point.

Count to 10 on April 22, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Americans are ridiculously disjointed when it comes to difficult choices. Don’t raise the debt ceiling, but keep my benefits coming. No changes to SS or Medicare, but no taxes to pay for them either. Tax the rich and focus on jobs, jobs, jobs at the same time. Regulate this, don’t regulate that. Protect the environment, why is gas so expensive.

Is it any surprise most politicians just opt to kick the can down the road?

BadgerHawk on April 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM

The problem is governing by polling. It’s like holding an election on a decision everytime there is a difficult decision to make.

Vince on April 22, 2011 at 10:03 AM

Whatever happened to the Fair Tax? That was suppose to cover most everything, including entitlements.

Karmi on April 22, 2011 at 10:03 AM

OT; Starbucks is giving away free coffee if you bring your own mug. Earth day thing or something. Tip; they are serving conservatives too.

Go green, or something

ted c on April 22, 2011 at 10:05 AM

So 2 to 1 to not raise the debt limit, yet if people were polled on the implications of that, they’d be strongly FOR raising the debt limit. An insight into the nature of public opinion. In their hearts, people know continued borrowing is wrong. And they want the same payments coming in SocSec, Medicare/caid, welfare, pensions. A huge disconnect.

If most people “get” that this massive borrowing is wrong, then we’re getting somewhere! Some day the disconnect has to be resolved. It’s not going to be pretty.

Paul-Cincy on April 22, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Is it any surprise most politicians just opt to kick the can down the road?

BadgerHawk on April 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM

And that is why we need leaders, not politicians. The whole idea of a Republic is that you vote for someone with common decency and common sense, then they make the choices. Instead, we vote for snake oil salesmen who have never even had the learning experience of selling used cars.

jeffn21 on April 22, 2011 at 10:08 AM

BadgerHawk on April 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM

LOL I shoulda just cut and pasted your post instead of writing my own ;)

Paul-Cincy on April 22, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Is it any surprise most politicians just opt to kick the can down the road?

BadgerHawk on April 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM

And that is why we need leaders, not politicians.

jeffn21 on April 22, 2011 at 10:08 AM

This is why I support Sarah. Her desire and ability to lead are miles above the rest of the field. From her I get a desire to do what she thinks is right, and not care whether people like her. Isn’t that the trap people fall into after they go to Washington DC? They don’t do what they know they should do because they want people to like them, and they want to get along, and they want to belong. And Sarah has shown she can ignore all of that, those trappings, those diversions.

Paul-Cincy on April 22, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Paul-Cincy on April 22, 2011 at 10:08 AM

That’s ok. It’s a point the needs repeating.

BadgerHawk on April 22, 2011 at 10:13 AM

SHUT IT DOWN!

It took the Soviet Union 80 years.

Barry only 2.

Quit throwing money down this rat hole.

GarandFan on April 22, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Not easy to fix a poll these days … But they try.

Anything to try and help Obaby.

tarpon on April 22, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Considering the sampling, this poll is meaningless.

michaelo on April 22, 2011 at 10:23 AM

The Soros mandate:
-
Destroy the DOLLAR to make room for a new world (order) currency.

esblowfeld on April 22, 2011 at 10:27 AM

The people are asking for it. Default!

ernesto on April 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM

It looks like the Dem message of borrowers as victims of predator lenders has been successful!

cartooner on April 22, 2011 at 10:55 AM

So in the past week polls have told us:

78% oppose cutting Medicare
48% support cutting Medicare
63% oppose the debt ceiling
60% support higher taxes

In other words Americans have no freaking clue what the hell they want.

angryed on April 22, 2011 at 11:14 AM

The people are asking for it. Default!

ernesto on April 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Failing to raise the debt ceiling would not cause the U.S. to default on any of its debt.

Debt payments would be the first thing we paid with the two+ trillion in revenue we would bring in without borrowing.

Everything else would get slashed to the bone, but we would not default.

BadgerHawk on April 22, 2011 at 11:16 AM

The people are asking for it. Default!

ernesto on April 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Why exactly do you think that servicing the debt is the first thing that the treasury will stop doing?

Count to 10 on April 22, 2011 at 11:17 AM

The people are asking for it. Default!

ernesto on April 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM

As usual you’re 100% wrong. This is what happens when you get your economic education from MSNBC and HuffPo.

angryed on April 22, 2011 at 11:26 AM

angryed on April 22, 2011 at 11:14 AM

The American people know exactly what they want. They want lower taxes, more entitlements, and lower debt.

It’s the pollsters who are framing the questions and the administration leading on policy who are hiding behind what Americans “want,” to obscure what Americans “choose” from a set of limited options.

Let’s see a poll that asks “which of the following 2 or 3 realistic choices do you prefer” where one of the answers isn’t freaking “Cut Foreign Aid.”

HitNRun on April 22, 2011 at 11:29 AM

CBS will skew it til we believe it. Barry just needs to ‘splain it better.

Kissmygrits on April 22, 2011 at 11:32 AM

So in the past week polls have told us:

78% oppose cutting Medicare
48% support cutting Medicare
63% oppose the debt ceiling
60% support higher taxes

In other words Americans have no freaking clue what the hell they want.

angryed on April 22, 2011 at 11:14 AM

What this tells me is that pollsters are putting out incoherent little snippets of policy in hopes of influencing the debate.

If you took an issue like: “Go grab some lunch. I’m not feeling all that hungry.” and addressed it with a plan like, “go to McDonald’s, get a smallish burger and a small fries.” — the pollsters would turn this into:
78% oppose going to McDonald’s
48% support getting a small burger
63% oppose using a credit card
60% support something tasty not on the value menu.

Dicing up a coherent, complete plan in this fashion is just a way to block effective action.

cthulhu on April 22, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Why exactly do you think that servicing the debt is the first thing that the treasury will stop doing?

Count to 10 on April 22, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Well….given the bunch of clowns in power, it might be. Of course, that would have less to do with the debt ceiling and more to do with the petty, knee-jerk, vindictive, small-minded, unthinking nature of the Administration….

cthulhu on April 22, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Failing to raise the debt ceiling would not cause the U.S. to default on any of its debt.

Debt payments would be the first thing we paid with the two+ trillion in revenue we would bring in without borrowing.

Everything else would get slashed to the bone, but we would not default.

BadgerHawk on April 22, 2011 at 11:16 AM

The debt service, interest on our debt is about 6 percent of everything the federal government has to pay. So, we would be taking in enough revenue to cover more than 10 times all the interest that we owe. There is no reason we would have to default on our interest obligations.

slickwillie2001 on April 22, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Let’s see a poll that asks “which of the following 2 or 3 realistic choices do you prefer”

HitNRun on April 22, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Absolutely! When I saw the two results, I thought… “and?” They cut apart two linked items and then tried to reassemble the context out of the results… and can’t seem to understand why the hamburger doesn’t look like a cow.

Simply ask two questions…

1) I believe that…
a) Medicare will be forceably cut if costs are not contained through cuts.
b) We can continue borrowing to infinity to fund Medicare indefinately.

2) I think we should…
a) Contain Medicare costs now so that it will exist for my self, my children, and my grandchildren.
b) Convert Medicare to a voucher system to use more efficient private insurers.

I believe that Medicare is a nice to have for medical expenses when someone drastically exceeds average life expectancies. I also believe that if cost containment cuts aren’t made, it will NOT exist in the near future (crash). I think we should consider Ryan’s plan for vouchers, or use HSAs (which keeps it as my money and makes it easy for companies to fund as an employment differentiator).

dominigan on April 22, 2011 at 12:43 PM

So Mr. Vacation and Kolbe beef warns us about financial dangers if we don’t let him spend us into total bankruptcy.

Who is foolish enough to believe that this man has any financial grasp on anything, but our dollars?

Don L on April 22, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Did anyone see the interview with Geithner, the arrogant little twit. They asked him how much he thought they should increase the debt ceiling and he said, they usually don’t get into that it’s up to Congress. WHen he was pushed, he got a little smirk on his face and said, “It depends on how soon they want to do it again.”

I hope the House puts the pressure on them.

bflat879 on April 22, 2011 at 1:09 PM

Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling and they like the *idea* of cutting spending but when you get specific about things where the most spending is, they balk at cutting.

crosspatch on April 22, 2011 at 1:19 PM

WHen he was pushed, he got a little smirk on his face and said, “It depends on how soon they want to do it again.

So there’s Geithner’s plan, in a nutshell.

jodetoad on April 22, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Right now it’s easy to be in favor of spending for everything. Capping the deficit will force prioritization. It will be interesting to see whether Obama will choose Social Security or NPR, EPA, UN, NEH, NLRB etc.

Could be a way to lop off a whole chunk of programs that both parties seem unwilling to chop.

DaMav on April 22, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Yeah, but ask them if they are willing to see a hike interest rates for consumers if the debt ceiling is not raised and see what kind of response you get.

People have shown that they can be real tough when it comes to polls, but they balk at actual cuts or anything like a default.

I don’t think it is hysterical to point out that if the debt ceiling is not raised there can and will be repercussions that effect average Americans. I do think that when people answer a question like this they are sending a message that they want an end to the out of control spending…but I don’t think they really know what it means to not raise the debt ceiling. I think they believe that politicians want to raise the debt ceiling because they want to borrow more money, in truth if the debt ceiling is not raised it will effect current spending.

And I bet that most Americans also think it is a good idea to raise taxes on top earners also.

People want to send a message, that does not mean they want another recession.

Terrye on April 22, 2011 at 3:08 PM

@Terrye

But as you know, the real choice is not between delicious cake and delicious cake.

What I’m watching is Dems who want to keep spending even more and Reps who have thus far failed to cut diddly. Nothing. Name one significant agency or elimination. Zero.

If that keeps up, “there can and will be repercussions that effect average Americans” — as you aptly put it. In other words if your going to get beat up either way why not make the best of it. I don’t relish what’s coming but a debt ceiling does force actual cuts in spending. Smoke and mirrors will only get ya so far

DaMav on April 22, 2011 at 6:02 PM

There’s a cynical side of me that says the Democrats would love to see the country go bankrupt, at least to the point where everyone is dependent on the government to survive. How else can you explain, not just the spending they’ve done the past 2 years, but the lack of concern to actually deal with the debt and deficit that’s right there before them.

That is why I really believe the Republicans have to stand up and not deal with this unless they get some serious concessions from the President and the Dems in the senate.

bflat879 on April 23, 2011 at 12:05 AM