GOPers Cruisin’ For Bruisin’ on Debt Limit

A new ABC/WaPo survey shows that if public opinion matters, congressional Republicans who are spoiling for some kind of debt limit fight aren’t exactly in a strong position.

When asked if they favor the president’s position that the debt limit should be increased without first enacting spending cuts, or the GOP position that the increase should be denied (and/or, to accomodate its new hep idea, some federal government operations should be shut down) unless spending cuts are agreed to, Obama’s position prevails by a 58/36 margin. Indeed, the “keep spending separate” stance is supported by 45% of self-identified Republicans, and 54% of self-identified conservatives.

And those findings, it should be remembered, precede the kind of dire warnings from business and financial leaders we’re certain to hear if a full or partial default is imminent.

In terms of the credibility the two sides take into a debt limit fight: it’s not close. Obama’s current job approval rating is at 55%; that of congressional Republicans is at 24%. And here’s the shocker: 67% of respondents–and 50% of Republicans–think congressional GOPers are doing to little to compromise with Obama on big issues. The corresponding numbers saying Obama’s not compromising enough are 48% for all respondents and 20% of Democrats. True, 16% of Republicans think their champions in Congress are compromising too much with Obama (the percentage of Democrats faulting Obama for too much compromise is identical). So that’s “the base” debt limit hardliners are representing, and a pretty good reflection of the disproportionate power of right-wing activists.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.