Democrats have won high ground in payroll tax fight, Gallup finds

Democrats and President Obama have won the advantage over Republicans on the issue of the payroll tax cut, according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll found voters have more confidence in Democrats and the White House when it comes to future handling of the payroll tax break and unemployment benefits.

Specifically, 41 percent of voters surveyed said they are more confident in Obama and Democrats to handle those issues, as opposed to 34 percent who have more confidence in congressional Republicans. The numbers largely break down along partisan lines, with Independents favoring Democrats over Republicans by a 35 percent to 27 percent margin.

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Another 10 percent said they had no opinion, while 15 percent said they were not confident in either party.

Lawmakers wrapped up a year that was full of high-wire standoffs, ending with a fight over the payroll tax break and extended unemployment benefits that were set to expire at the end of the month. After the Senate easily passed a two-month extension to allow for more time to negotiate a longer agreement, House Republicans balked and voted down the short-term agreement.

House GOP leaders demanded that Senate negotiators return to hammer out a year-long agreement in the final days of 2011. But Democrats did not yield, and eventually Senate Republicans called on their House counterparts to accept the temporary agreement.

House Republicans passed the two-month bill by unanimous consent, and the parties will try and come together in the new year to craft a longer deal.

The Gallup poll was conducted five days after the House GOP agreed to the short-term extension.