Historically brutal. And almost perfectly in line with CNN’s poll from a few days ago. If you’re looking for a political legacy to the debt-ceiling standoff, there you go: In 35 years, faith in the country’s chief democratic branch has never, ever been lower.
More than four out of five people surveyed said that the recent debt-ceiling debate was more about gaining political advantage than about doing what is best for the country. Nearly three-quarters said that the debate had harmed the image of the United States in the world…
But by a ratio of more than two to one, Americans said that creating jobs should be a higher priority than spending cuts…
“Cutting spending is important, but getting people back to work is more important,” said Diane Sherrell, 56, a Republican from Erwin, N.C. “If people are working, they are more productive. There is less crime, there is less depression, there is less divorce. There are less hospital and medical bills. If you put people back to work, you are cutting spending.”
Reading that boldface part, I wonder what the public’s reaction would be if Obama made a sustained case for a new stimulus to stop the economic bleeding. They’d laugh, probably; by overpromising on Stimulus I and then outsourcing it to Congress to pork it up, Obama destroyed his shot at a second dip. But in the abstract, notwithstanding worries about deficits, voters seem willing to do almost anything to dent unemployment. You blew your chance, champ.
I’m going to give you some of the key numbers; turn on a night light before proceeding because most of them are scarier than a Stephen King novel. The obligatory caveat about the sample: Democrats have an eight-point advantage, which seems a few points larger than it should be. But (a) Democrats also had an eight-point advantage in the poll taken on 4/15, so you can use that month’s data as a baseline for comparison (in fact, eight points is in line with most recent NYT samples), and (b) utter disgust with both parties may be affecting the sample this month. Independents are at 39 percent, the highest number in 20 years of Times polling.
The one bright spot from the crosstabs:
Wonderful news! By comparison, in the CNN poll this week, just 13 percent wanted deeper cuts. But wait:
Think Obama’s going to cave next time on the Bush tax cuts with data like that in his pocket and knowing that his base is utterly desperate for him to take a stand? Imagine what faith in government will look like once we reach that unholy standoff.
As for who would have gotten most of the blame had we hit the ceiling, surprise:
Let’s call that chart, “Why Boehner and McConnell took the deal.” Nor is that the only case where The One is off the hook, more or less:
Obama’s numbers are up — but so are Bush’s, a likely byproduct of the recent focus on revenues as a partial solution to the deficit problem and the shortfall created by the Bush tax cuts.
But here’s the toughest political data for grassroots conservatives:
According to CBS, “Among Republicans, the drop in favorability is steeper: Favorable views of the Tea Party have dropped 18 points since April, to 41 percent.” Again, the partisan spread in today’s sample is the same as it was in April, and even so you’re seeing a double-digit jump in disapproval for the tea party and a double-digit jump in the number who think tea partiers have too much influence in the GOP. How you square that with the heavy public support for deeper cuts, I’m not sure. It may be that the public sympathizes with broad tea-party goals but objects to using the debt ceiling as tactical leverage to achieve them. Or it may be that the endless drumbeat of “terrorist” rhetoric by Democrats is working. (Pelosi’s betting on it!) It’s a bitter pill, though, given that tea partiers themselves think the deal they got was pretty much crap. Either way, the next standoff will be dicier, and the stakes even higher, than they were in this one. But then, we already knew that.