Gallup poll: Public’s fear of falling over ‘fiscal cliff’ grows

A new poll finds the public’s fears over the looming “fiscal
cliff” growing, as the year-end deadline for a deficit deal nears.

Fifty percent of those surveyed in a new Gallup poll
released Wednesday believe President Obama and lawmakers will reach an
agreement to avoid January’s set of tax increases and automatic spending cuts. Forty-eight percent are doubtful a deal will
be reached in time.

{mosads}Those figures represent a drop in optimism from the last
poll, taken on Dec. 16, which showed 57 percent saying that a deal
would be struck and 40 percent believing a deal unlikely.

The poll also finds growing confidence in Democratic leaders’
handling of negotiations. Fifty-four percent approve of Obama’s efforts in
talks, up from 48 percent last week. 

Forty-five percent approve of how Democratic leaders in
Congress have handled negotiations, up from 34 percent in a poll taken Dec.
15-16. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has seen approval for his
role in talks rise from 24 to 34 percent.

But the poll does not show a similar boost for Republican
negotiators. Approval for Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) handling of fiscal
talks rose only 1 percentage point, from 25 to 26 percent. Respondents also
showed less confidence in Republican leaders in Congress, with 26 percent
approving of how they have handled the deficit talks, down from 29 percent in
the last poll.

Polls have consistently shown that the public will blame Republicans more if talks fail, and the president has sought to rally public support for his stance calling for tax hikes on the wealthy.

The poll’s results come as Obama is cutting short his
vacation in Hawaii to return to Washington on Wednesday to resume negotiations.
The House and Senate are also slated to be in session on Thursday.

Negotiators have less than a week to craft a deal before the
nation falls over the fiscal cliff, a move economists warn could spark a new

Gallup also finds that more Americans are paying attention
to the negotiations. Thirty-four percent said they are following news about the
talks “very closely,” the highest level of attention Gallup has found yet.

Voters also are pressing leaders to reach a deal.
Sixty-eight percent say negotiators should “compromise” to 22 percent who urge
them to “stick to principles” in talks.

The Gallup poll was conducted from Dec. 21-22 and has a 4-point
margin of error.

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