American voters would rather shut down the government than raise the debt limit, even though most believe a shutdown would have a dramatic effect on everyday Americans.
A Fox News poll released Wednesday asked voters to imagine being a lawmaker in Washington who had to decide whether to increase the debt ceiling. The poll found 62 percent would vote against raising it -- even at the risk of shutting down the government.
About one-in-four voters (26 percent) would raise the limit to allow the government to spend more.
Looking at views by political party, Republicans would overwhelmingly vote against raising the debt ceiling (79 percent). So would a majority of independents (62 percent). Democrats, however, split more evenly: 42 percent would vote to raise the limit and 46 percent would vote against it.
Is shutting down the government a big deal? A 58 percent majority thinks a government shutdown would have a dramatic effect on the lives of everyday Americans, while 34 percent think it’s more of a technical issue that lacks real consequences.
Voters’ willingness to close the government while at the same time believing it would have a major effect on everyday Americans may stem from the low regard many voters have for those receiving government benefits. Voters are more likely to think people who receive substantial benefits from the government are mostly “freeloaders who are abusing the system” (52 percent) than people who “genuinely need a helping hand” (35 percent).
Opinion is mixed on who can be trusted to make the right spending cuts. When asked who they trust to cut government spending enough to make a difference while also making sure valuable programs are not hurt, slightly more voters trust President Obama (45 percent) than Congressional Republicans (42 percent).
Not surprisingly, most Democrats would trust Obama (81 percent) and most Republicans would trust GOP Congressional leaders (79 percent). Independents split evenly at 37 percent for both Obama and Republicans, and 18 percent say “neither.” House Republican leaders went to the White House Tuesday for negotiations on the budget and spending cuts.
Thirty-four percent of voters think the Obama administration’s policies have hurt the economy, while 28 percent say they have helped. The remaining 36 percent think they have made no difference.
By a 17 percentage-point margin -- 57-40 percent -- voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing on the economy. Still, approval for the president’s handling of the economy is up 6 points from 34 percent in October.
Despite receiving negative ratings on the economy, the president maintains a positive overall job rating: 49 percent of voters approve of Obama’s performance, and 47 percent disapprove. That's little change from last month, when 49 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved.
A year ago the president’s job rating was upside down, with more voters disapproving (48 percent) than approving (43 percent) of his performance (April 6-7, 2010).
Congress continues to receive worse grades from voters: 59 percent disapprove of the job congressional Democrats are doing and 58 percent disapprove of the job Republicans are doing. Moreover, 28 percent of Republicans disapprove of the job their party is doing in Congress and 26 percent of Democrats disapprove of their party's performance.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 914 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from April 3 to April 5. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.