It’s hard for a poll to explore the question of whether the public favors compromise in a situation like the debt-ceiling impasse. If you ask: “Do you think the parties should compromise or stand on principle?”it’s easy for a respondent who identifies with a particular party to say yes, when what the person mean is that the other party should compromise so his party can get what it wants.
Pew Research Center uses a question designed to get around the compromise-means-the-other-side-should-cave problem. It goes like this:
What would you like lawmakers who share your views on this issue to do?
Should they stand by their principles, even if that means the government goes into default
Should they be willing to compromise, even if that means they strike a deal you disagree with.
In a poll fresh out this afternoon, Pew found that by 68 to 23 Americans favor a compromise, even it produces a deal with which they disagree.
But, as further evidence that something about today’s Republicans is less open to compromise, the poll found that Republicans favor a compromise solution less than Democrats or independents. Thus:
81 percent of Democrats favor compromise, 69 percent of independents favor it, but just 53 percent of Republicans said they would want their congresspeople to compromise even if a failure to compromise meant default.
Pew used other questions to probe within the group of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents to separate them into those who agree with the Tea Party and those who disagree. And, perhaps not surprisingly, a majority of Tea Party agree-ers (53 percent) said they would prefer default to compromise, while among Republicans who don’t agree with the Tea Party only 24 percent said that default was preferable to compromise.
Pew, by the way, has used this question before and the share of respondents who favor compromise has risen. In an early April poll, compromise led by 55-36 compared to 68-23 now.
According to Pew, the public doesn’t approve of anyone involved in the impasse, but disapproves of Pres. Obama the least (44 percent approve to 48 percent disapprove). That compares with 30 percent who approve of the work of Democratic congressional leaders and 25 percent who approve of Repub leaders.
Of the full sample, 60 percent said they favored a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the deficit, 19 percent say the focus should be mostly on cutting spending and eight percent said the focus should be mostly on raising taxes.