A majority of voters believe President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are better equipped to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff” than their Republican colleagues, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
Quinnipiac surveyed 1,949 voters nationwide between Nov. 28 and Dec. 3 and found Americans trust Obama and Democrats to avoid the fiscal cliff 53 percent to 36 percent. Voters also approved of the president’s job performance 52 percent to 40 percent.
“Nothing like winning an election to boost your job approval,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said. “President Barack Obama hasn’t had a score this good since his 52-40 percent approval rating May 5, 2011, right after the death of Osama bin Laden.”
On the fiscal cliff, a combination of self-imposed austerity measures and expiring tax cuts, a slim majority — 48 percent to 43 percent — believe Obama and Congress will be able to strike a deal before the end of the year.
One of the major sticking points in negotiations between Obama and Congressional Republicans is the president’s insistence that the deal include a provision to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for households making more than $250,000 a year.
Voters back Obama on this issue by a wide margin of 65 percent to 31 percent. Democrats support the higher taxes on the wealthy 84 percent to 14 percent while unaffiliated voters support it 66 percent to 31 percent, and Republicans oppose it 53 percent to 41 percent.
Americans are split on other proposals to avoid the cliff. They favor limiting the home mortgage interest deduction to the first $500,000 of mortgage debt 62 percent to 28 percent. However they oppose eliminating it altogether 67 percent to 23 percent. They do support eliminating the deduction for second homes 56 percent to 35 percent.
Most Americans, or 66 percent, agreed the best way to reduce the deficit will be to raise taxes and cut spending, just not from Medicaid. Voters opposed Medicaid cuts 70 percent to 25 percent. They also opposed raising the age of Medicare eligibility, but only by a 51 percent to 44 percent margin.
Voters support raising the capital gains tax 47 percent to 40 percent but oppose cutting military spending 55 percent to 41 percent.
Brown said voters feel Republicans are likely to be obstructionist in the negotiations and have less confidence they have the right ideas to solve the country’s fiscal woes.
A majority of voters, 56 percent to 38 percent, said they think Obama and the Democrats will make a good faith effort to work with Republicans. Meanwhile, 51 percent to 43 percent said they did not think Republicans would do the same.
“The 48 to 43 percent belief that President Obama and both parties in Congress can avoid the Fiscal Cliff is hardly a strong vote of confidence that the folks in Washington can avert the supposed financial catastrophe they all say they want to avoid,” Brown said.
Thursday’s poll had a 2.2 percent margin of error.