Poll: Most Americans would blame GOP if Congress fails on 'fiscal cliff'

Most Americans believe Washington will take the U.S. over the "fiscal cliff" — and would blame Republicans if it happened, according to a new poll.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed expect Congress and the White House will not be able to strike a deal averting automatic spending cuts and expiring tax cuts set to take effect at the beginning of next year, according to a new study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center and The Washington Post. Just 38 percent believe policymakers will strike a deal.

If the nation does slide over the fiscal cliff, the GOP will hold the lion's share of the blame when it comes to public opinion, according to the poll. Fifty-three percent said Republicans in Congress would shoulder the blame, while just 29 percent would lay fault primarily at the feet of the president.

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The blame game largely breaks down partisan lines, as 68 percent of Republicans would blame Obama, while 85 percent of Democrats would point the finger at congressional Republicans. Independents are twice as likely to blame Republicans than the president for a fiscal cliff failure.

Furthermore, Republicans are more pessimistic about the chances of a fiscal cliff deal than Democrats and independents, with two-thirds of conservatives believing Washington will be unable to strike a deal averting those policies. Most independents also believe the U.S. will go over the cliff, but Democrats are slightly optimistic about talks, with 47 percent believing an agreement will be reached compared to 40 percent who don't.

Of the 1,000 people polled, most believe the impact of the fiscal cliff, if it were to occur, would do more damage to the broader economy than their own personal situation. Sixty-eight percent believe the impact of the cliff would have a "major effect" on the U.S. economy, with 62 percent expecting it to be mostly negative. In comparison, just 44 percent believe it would have a major effect on their own personal financial situation, and 60 percent said the impact would have a mostly negative personal effect.