That divide helps explain why both sides remain entrenched in the battle over the budget, unwilling to alienate their bases, which strongly oppose ceding ground to political opponents.

No other proposals garnered the support of more than half of Americans. Fifty-seven percent of voters opposed major changes to entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare, while 60 percent said the government should not cut defense spending. A full 88 percent said increases in taxes on lower- and middle-class Americans were unacceptable.

The committee, tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in debt relief over 10 years, is expected to announce that it failed to reach consensus after the financial markets close Monday afternoon. 

But in failing to act, lawmakers run the risk of bruising already troubling poll numbers. Only 21 percent of those surveyed approved of the way Republican leaders in Congress were handling their job, versus 77 percent who disapproved. The numbers for Democrats were only marginally better, with 29 percent approving of their leadership and 68 percent breaking against the Democrats.

Those figures represent new lows for the parties' congressional leadership.