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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