Quinnipiac poll finds more voters would blame GOP on debt

Voters would blame congressional Republicans more than the Obama administration if the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling is not raised, according to a new poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University.

Forty-eight percent of those polled said Republicans would be mainly responsible if the debt ceiling is not raised, compared to 34 percent who said the Obama administration.

Twenty percent of Republicans would hold their party mainly responsible, and 49 percent of the independent voters both parties are trying to attract would put more responsibility on the GOP. Thirty-three percent of independents would put more responsibility on the administration.

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The poll comes after Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) offered a stern warning to his party on Wednesday, saying the GOP brand would be destroyed if there was a default on the debt.

Lawmakers and the White House face an Aug. 2 deadline to reach a deal. After that date, the Treasury Department would no longer be able to pay all of the nation’s bills, and businesses and government officials have warned of stern economic consequences.

President Obama on Tuesday said he could not guarantee that Social Security checks would be sent out on Aug. 3.

The economy has been an anchor on Obama’s approval ratings, and several polls have shown voters unhappy with his handling of the economy.

But the Quinnipiac poll shows respondents blame former President George W. Bush much more than the current president for the problems.

Fifty-four percent blame Bush more for the economy, compared to 27 percent who say Obama is more to blame. More than twice as many independents blame Bush than Obama.

By a 56-38 percent margin, voters disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy in the Quinnipiac poll, but they still trust him to handle the economy better than congressional Republicans by a 45-38 percent margin.

The majority of voters disapprove of the way both Democrats and Republicans are “handling their job” in Congress, with Democrats’ approval rating just slightly beating Republicans’ at 28 compared to 26 percent.

Most voters (67 percent) also aligned with Democrats in wanting tax hikes on “the wealthy and corporations” as part of a deficit-reduction package. Republicans have said they would agree to no tax hikes as part of a deal.

Forty-five percent of voters think Obama’s proposals to raise revenues are “closing loopholes” rather than “tax hikes,” compared to 37 percent who think the opposite. But 57 percent of those voters also said the proposals would hurt the middle class.

The president’s job approval rating remains unchanged from a June survey at 47 percent, with 38 percent approving of “the way Barack Obama is handling the economy.”

The poll surveyed 2,311 registered voters nationwide from July 5 to 11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.