Americans have seen this rerun before: President Obama and lawmakers in Washington haggling over budget negotiations, drama ensues, cut to the same scene a few months later.
The latest NBC/WSJ poll released on Tuesday suggests the public is wary of the all-too predictable story-line of these fiscal fights.
That’s the case with the most recent debate over the sequester or automatic spending cuts—adding up to $1.2 trillion over a 10-year period—which are set to begin on Friday. President Obama still appears to have the upper hand compared to his Republicans foes in the public’s eyes.
The polling on the sequester showdown looks similar to the poll trends of the debt ceiling showdown for both the president and GOP. This time around, Obama’s approval rating is down to 50% from 53% in December. But the Republicans’ ratings are worse. Just 29% of Americans polled have a positive view of the Republican Party, and 46% have a negative view.
In the new poll, 48% say President Obama is working towards unifying the country, while 43% say he’s resorting to partisan politics. But 64% of respondents say Republicans are pushing partisanship over national unity. Only 22 % think the GOP is advocating a unified approach.
Also, 52% consider the sequester cuts a horrible idea, whereas 21% of those polled say it’s a good thing for the country. However, 53% prefer Congress to go through with the across-the-board cuts as currently planned– even if they don’t really like the deal—or another plan with even more cuts as a way to cut down the deficit. And 37% would like to see a smaller scale plan with less cuts.
How about instilling confidence in the public? Not so much. Among those polled, 51% say negotiations between Obama and congressional Republicans make them feel less confident about the economy.
The NBC/WSJ poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Feb. 21-24.