Cliff Deal Poorly Received

Last Friday, the Gallup survey research organization (Jan. 3; 1,026 adults as part of their daily national tracking program) released an analysis poll that showed a bare plurality of their national polling sample disapproved (46-48 percent) of the final fiscal cliff deal.

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center for the People & Press publicized their own data (Jan. 3-6; 1,003 adults, nationally) providing much more detail. Though both polls clearly show that people believe Pres. Obama performed better in the negotiations than his Republican legislative counterparts, a far greater number of respondents see little positive value pertaining to how the deal affects themselves or the nation’s economy.

The Pew data confirms Gallup in that their sample shows an overall disapproval tilt of 38-41 percent; but the numbers nosedive when probing further to understand the respondents’ true views. When asked if the deal will help or hurt people like themselves, by a 30-52 percent margin the individuals comprising the sampling universe said “hurt.” Similarly, the group believes the final deal will hurt the budget deficit (33-44 percent) and the economy (36-46 percent).

Interestingly, while the sampled individuals have a negative opinion of the overall deal they, as in Friday’s Gallup survey, overwhelmingly see Obama as the political winner in the process of developing an agreement. By a margin of 57-20 percent, the respondents believe that the president got more of what he wanted from the final deal as opposed to the Republican leaders. This sentiment, somewhat surprisingly, is strongest among the self-identified GOP poll participants. The Republicans, by an overwhelming 74-11 percent, say Obama achieved more of his fiscal cliff policy goals. Democrats, on the other hand, say Obama did better by a 53-26 percent spread. Self-described Independents scored the president at 55-19 percent as gaining the upper hand.

The approval ratings for the negotiating leaders are strikingly different. Though Obama clearly was viewed as winning the day, people only approve of his handling of the negotiations by a 48-40 percent margin. Republican leaders, on the other hand, were excoriated. They posted just a 19:66 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio, faring poorly even among their own patrons. The GOP respondents gave them a 40:45 percent positive to negative rating. Democrats, predictably, were highly critical of the GOP leaders (12:79 percent), but Independents, recording likely the most troubling statistic for the conservatives, rated the Republicans leaders with a disastrous 14:69 percent – similar to the way the Democratic respondents perceived their performance.

It is clear that the Republicans have to improve their public image in negotiation confrontations if they are to rebound politically. The Pew survey is particularly bad for them when understanding that the overall perception of the deal was negative, yet the GOP performance was even worse than what is commonly believed to be a harmful end result.

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