Public sides with Obama in debt-ceiling fight

Reflecting on the debt-ceiling fight, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) recently said, “If I were Boehner and Cantor, I’d get one of our highly respected Republican pollsters to come over and brief them. Right now, we’re not winning the battle.”

That was two weeks ago. They’re still not winning the battle.

Most Americans would like to see a mix of spending cuts and tax increases be part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, a new poll finds, aligning the majority with President Barack Obama’s position.

Of those surveyed for a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday, 56 percent said they want to see a mix of approaches used in an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The poll was conducted overnight Monday, as Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voiced their views on the impasse in negotiations in back-to-back televised primetime speeches.

“It does seem to be that the popular narrative is falling on the side of the president on this one,” Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said.

By some measures, these results appear to be getting worse for Republicans. The Reuters/Ipsos poll found only 19% agree with the GOP’s cuts-only demands, while 12% want no cuts in spending and prefer debt reduction through tax increases exclusively.

The same poll found a plurality of respondents blames congressional Republicans for the impasse.

These new numbers come on the heels of new data from the Washington Post/ABC News poll, which showed pretty awful numbers for President Obama, but also showed the public siding with Obama over Republicans on jobs and even the deficit.

And there’s also new data from a National Journal poll that found most Americans would rather see their taxes go up than see Congress cut entitlements. Even self-identified Republicans agree.

Reading all of the recent polling, it’d be a mistake to suggest Democrats and Obama are faring well. Overall, the American mainstream is deeply unhappy about nearly everything — the economy, the political process, their prospects for the future — and no one in DC is especially popular. It’s not as if the DNC and the West Wing have reason to celebrate the latest survey results. They don’t.

But any fair reading of the polls over the last couple of months, as the Republicans’ debt-ceiling crisis has intensified, finds that while the public is broadly frustrated, the GOP fares the worst — by a wide margin. Republicans are seen as too unwilling to compromise, too reckless, too wedded to bad ideas, too indifferent to the needs of the middle class and seniors, and too reluctant to even consider a balanced agreement with additional revenue.

Democrats aren’t winning any popularity contests, but compared to the GOP’s current standing, Dems enjoy vastly more public support.

Occasionally, we’ll still see Republican leaders suggest “the American people” are on the GOP’s side. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.