CNN poll: Supermajority expects politicians to act like "spoiled children" on fiscal cliff

Don’t expect too many moments of comedy during the debate over the fiscal cliff, especially if Congress and the White House can’t come to an agreement on it before the end of the year.  However, a new poll from CNN allows a little gallows humor to come to the fore.  Two thirds of of the 1,023 adults polled by CNN/ORC believe that the politicians who will hash this out will behave more like “spoiled children” than “responsible adults” in the negotiations.

And here we thought they weren’t paying attention:

Last year Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to a program to reduce the federal deficit that some people refer to as the “fiscal cliff.” Unless Congress and the President reach an agreement within the next few weeks, tax rates will automatically rise next year for nearly all Americans and major spending cuts will automatically begin to kick in for most government spending programs, including military programs.

According to the poll, which was released Monday, nearly one out of four say those tax increases and spending cuts will cause a crisis, with another 44% saying they would cause major problems. Nearly one in four say if the country falls off the “fiscal cliff,” only minor problems would occur, with 7% saying there would be no consequences. …

The poll also indicates that more than seven in ten Americans call for compromise on this issue, but they are pessimistic about that actually happening, with two-thirds predicting that Washington officials will act like “spoiled children,” not “responsible adults,” in the upcoming negotiations.

CNN didn’t release the internals on the poll, and it was a general-population poll rather than one of registered voters.  It looks like from that description that about the same number of people believe the fiscal cliff to be a crisis or major problem matches up pretty well with those that expect a “spoiled children” response from Congress.

The poll shows that Americans broadly want to see both parties compromise, with a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts — even self-identifying Republicans:

Two thirds of those questioned in the poll say that any agreement should include a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, with just under one in three saying a deal should only include spending cuts.

Democrats questioned in the survey overwhelmingly support an agreement that has both, and six out of ten independents feel the same way. By a 52%-44% margin, Republicans also favor a mixture of spending cuts and tax increases instead of a deal that only includes spending cuts.

With that in mind, people will be inclined at this point in time to blame House Republicans for a failure to reach an agreement.  That’s not to say that Democrats will come out unscathed, as 34% will blame Obama, but 45% are inclined to put the onus on Republicans in Congress.  Republicans could insist on keeping all of the current tax rates and scotch any deal that raises them, but they’d have a lot of selling to do on that position — and they very obviously didn’t make the sale during the election, not even among Republicans.