Poll: Public blames Obama, GOP equally for sequester flight delays

The public blames congressional Republicans and President Obama equally for the airport delays caused by automatic sequester cuts, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

The survey, released on Monday, found 34 percent of respondents blamed congressional Republicans for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) furloughs of air traffic controllers, which contributed to the flight delays, while 32 percent blamed Obama.

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The president and Republicans have traded blame over the across-the-board budget axe, with the GOP seizing on the furloughs to argue that the administration was politicizing cuts to gain leverage in fiscal fights. The FAA, however, said they could not prevent the furloughs and lacked the flexibility to keep essential workers on the job.

The poll finds the president losing significant political advantage since the "fiscal-cliff" tax debate last December where 53 percent blamed Congress and 27 percent blamed Obama for the standoff. Before the March 1 sequestration deadline hit, 45 percent blamed the GOP for the impending cuts and 32 percent blamed Obama.

But the poll also suggests that voters did not closely follow the fight over the FAA furloughs, which led to lightning fast legislation from Congress Friday morning.

Only 36 percent of those surveyed were following the debate very closely or fairly closely, while 64 percent said they were either not following it closely at all or were not following it too closely.

Congress last week authorized the FAA to transfer funds from airport improvement grants into its main personnel budget in order to end air traffic controller furloughs that were starting to cause flight delays.

Obama is poised to sign the bill, even though he has sought a mix of targeted spending cuts and tax increases to replace all the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that went into effect March 1. Democrats had previously said they would oppose measures to address sequester cuts on a piecemeal basis.

Republicans have claimed victory and say Obama’s demands for tax increases are dead since he has shown he will back down when spending cuts start to take effect and support GOP legislation simply shifting the cuts elsewhere.

The Pew Center surveyed 1,003 adults from April 25 to April 28.